A case against Assam news portal after DIPR alleges fake news: Lovlina hoardings

A case has been registered against a Guwahati based news portal after the Directorate of Information and Public Relations (DIPR), Assam alleged that the website had aired “fake news” – related to hoardings that featured Olympian boxer Lovlina Borgohain – to “malign the image of the Minister of Information and Public Relations, Pijush Hazarika and the department in the public eye”.

It was said that the police registered a case under Sections 294A/500/505 (2) of the IPC and Section 45A of the IT Act on Friday.

The director of DIPR requested that “appropriate legal action against the web portal” be taken under the law for the “dissemination of completely false and fabricated information designed to malign the images of innocent persons”.

The Assamese news portal The CrossCurrent on Friday posted a news clip on the Facebook page which was later deleted, reportedly questioned the use of Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s photos on multiple hoardings that were put up in Guwahati in the past week – one congratulating Borgohain and the other commemorating the death anniversary of Assam’s first chief minister Gopinath Bordoloi.

“Congratulations and best wishes to Lovlina Borgohain for qualifying for Tokyo Olympic 2020” and “You are the pride of Assam”. The hoarding was displayed to congratulate Lovlina Borgohain with a huge picture of the Assam’s Chief Minister, in the hoarding the boxer’s photograph was not featured at all.

Again in another hoarding, the death anniversary of Assam’s first Chief Minister Gopinath Bordoloi where the picture of Sarma occupying most of the space and neither carried the name of the department which sanctioned it.

Both the hoardings led to criticism and controversy on social media for not featuring the pictures they deserve.

However, The Chief Minister of Assam himself opposed the branding saying he did not endorse it,    “I do not endorse this kind of branding at all. Instruction has been issued not to use my picture from now onwards without prior approval of my office,” he tweeted.

The TheCrossCurrent editor Gautam Gogoi said “Usually the DIPR makes such hoardings. So we just raised some questions asking if they installed it and if they had not, who had approved it? We also asked if Pijush Hazarika, who is the Minister of the Information and Public Relations, need to impress Himanta Biswa Sarma had backfired… since the latter said he did not approve of the hoarding.”

However, in the complaint to the police, the director of the DIPR said neither the minister nor the department was involved in the hoardings.

Pijush Hazarika claiming the allegation to be false responded to a message tweeted by Siddhart @svaradarajan founding editor of @thewirehindi on August 8th said, Dear Siddarth Ji nobody is arrested, it is totally false.

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