The Editors Guild of India today condemned arrests of a journalist, an editor and the head of a television channel over allegedly circulating objectionable content related to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
They described the police action as an “authoritarian misuse of laws” and an effort to intimidate the media, our New Delhi correspondent reports quoting a statement released by the Editors Guild.
An FIR was registered against Noida-based journalist Prashant Kanojia at Hazratganj police station in Lucknow on Friday night in which it was alleged that the accused made “objectionable comments against Adityanath and tried to malign his image.”
Kanojia had shared a video on Twitter and Facebook where a woman is seen speaking to reporters of various media organisations outside the Chief Minister’s office claiming that she had sent a marriage proposal to Adityanath.
Noida-based television channel Nation Live’s Editor Ishita Singh and its Head Anuj Shukla were also arrested by Uttar Pradesh police, the Guild said.
The TV channel had broadcasted a video on the same issue, it adds.
“The police action is high-handed, arbitrary and amounts to an authoritarian misuse of laws,” the Guild said in the statement.
The Guild sees it as an effort to intimidate the press and stifle freedom of expression, the statement said.
“Whatever the accuracy of the woman’s claims, to register a case of criminal defamation against the journalists for sharing it on the social media and airing it on a television channel is a brazen misuse of law,” said the Guild statement.
To give the police powers to arrest, provisions of Section 66 of the IT Act have also been added, it said.
As with a recent case in Karnataka that the Guild spoke about, the FIR in this case is also not filed by the person allegedly affected but suo moto by the police, the Guild noted. “This is a condemnable misuse of law and state power,” the statement read.