Ballia journalists get bail in UP paper leak case, police drop cheating charge

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The three journalists arrested in Ballia in connection with the paper leak of class XII English examination have been granted bail after police could not produce ample evidence of their alleged involvement in the leak. Police have also withdrawn the section for cheating (420) against all three due to lack of evidence.

The three Ballia-based journalists are Ajit Ojha and Digvijay Singh of Amar Ujala newspaper, and Manoj Gupta of Rashtriya Sahara newspaper. At least 52 people have been arrested in the case, including Ballia District Inspector Of Schools (DIOS) Brijesh Mishra.

Journalists in Ballia have been protesting against the arrests since March 31 when the three reporters were made accused in cases lodged over the paper leak and arrested. They were accused of being involved in the paper leak after they had reported on the leak in their newspapers.

A total of three cases were lodged in connection with the paper leak at three police stations – Kotwali, Nagra and Sikandarpur. While Ojha was granted bail by the District Court on Monday in the case lodged at Kotwali, a lower court had already given bail to Gupta and Singh on Friday in the cases lodged at Nagra and Sikandarpur police stations.

On March 30, the Class XII English paper of the Uttar Pradesh Board examination was cancelled in 24 districts after a paper leak in Ballia district.

Speaking to The Indian Express on Monday, Advocate Akhilendra Kumar, who represented the journalists, said, “Today, the District Court gave Ajit Ojha bail. The other two journalists were given bail Friday by the court of Judicial Magistrate.”

Kumar added, “The police had to withdraw the section for cheating (420) against Ojha as they didn’t have any evidence to prove that Ojha was involved in the paper leak. The police had invoked the section against the journalists in a wrongful manner, and to save

themselves, the officers had invoked the sections.”

Ballia District Government Counsel (Criminal) Sanjiv Singh confirmed to The Indian Express on Monday that all three journalists have been granted bail. “Ajit Ojha was granted bail on Monday in the case lodged at Kotwali, while he was already granted bail by a lower court on Friday. The other two were granted bail by a lower court on Friday,” said Singh.

Ballia Superintendent of Police Raj Karan Nayyar on Monday said that section for cheating was dropped against all three journalists as there was no evidence to back it.

“We dropped the section for cheating against Ojha on Monday as we could not link the school where he was an invigilator to the paper leak. Initially, when the incident happened, DIOS (Brijesh Mishra) had indicated that the school where Ojha was an invigilator was involved in the leak and so was Ojha. We had the school under scanner, but so far, we have not got any evidence to link the school to the paper leak. We are still waiting for forensic data on mobile phone of the other accused, and once it comes we will see what is revealed and will proceed further. We had earlier withdrawn the section for cheating against the other two journalists Singh and Gupta,” said Nayyar on Monday.



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