New Delhi : The Indian Journalists Union condemns the UP police action of again arresting journalist Prashant Kanojia following a complaint against his alleged tweet filed by a BJP leader in Lucknow. Demanding his immediate release, the IJU questioned the FIR lodged against Kanojia and whether there was rule of law in Yogi Adityanath’s State.
As per reports, Kanojia, who is with the Transcontinental Times, was arrested from his Delhi residence on Tuesday afternoon. His wife is quoted saying, “There were five-six people. Only one of them was in uniform. The rest were in civil clothes. At first, they gave us no reason as to why he was being arrested, except to say that orders had come from above.” She went to the Vasant Vihar police station and was told that “the men along with Kanojia have crossed Noida and were en route Lucknow.”
The FIR filed in Lucknow on Monday, after a complaint by one Dinesh Kumar Shukla is under IPC sections 153 (A), 153 (B), 420, 465, 468, 469, 500, 505(1)(b), 505(2) and 66, which deal with defamation and “attacks upon the religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc of any particular group or class or upon the founders and prophets of a religion”, among others.
The FIR accuses Kanojia of having tweeted a morphed Facebook post by Sushil Tiwari of the Hindu Army on 10 August, wherein it said Islamic studies should be replaced by Vedic studies in the UPSC syllabus. The FIR further states this post was subsequently edited to state that OBC/SC/ST will not be allowed in Ayodhya’s Ram Mandir and this edited photo was then tweeted by Kanojia on 16 August and then deleted it later.
In a statement, IJU President and former Member, Press Council of India Geetartha Pathak and IJU Secretary General and IFJ Vice President Sabina Inderjit said the UP government’s intimidation, harassment and arrest of Kanojia smacks of vindictiveness and contempt for freedom of speech and expression. The government must stop passing on the buck and put its own house right insofar as law and order is concerned.
Noting that this isn’t the first time UP police has taken action against Kanojia (he was arrested in June last year and the Supreme Court had asked that he be released), the IJU demanded that the UP police release Kanojia immediately and that the government refrain from gagging free speech and harassing journalists, which amounts to an attack on press freedom.