The Editors' Guild of India has strongly criticised the Uttar Pradesh police action against Siddharth Varadarajan, the Editor-in-Chief of The Wire, over an article on the Uttar Pradesh government's handling of coronavirus. The police action, the Editors' Guild said, was "over-reaction and an act of intimidation". A resident of Delhi, Mr Varadarajan has been asked to appear at the Ayodhya police station on Tuesday, amid the nationwide lockdown.
A First Information Report was filed against Mr Varadarajan earlier this month alleging that he has made an "objectionable" comment about Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
The article -- published on March 31 in the backdrop of the controversy over the religious event in Delhi hosted by Tablighi Jamaat, which proved a hotspot for coronavirus -- had incorrectly attributed a quote to Yogi Adityanath. But a correction was made subsequently and noted in the article itself, The Wire said. Mr Varadarajan had also posted a clarification on Twitter.
The Editors' Guild, in its statement, said: "The Guild's attention has also been drawn to the lodging of a First Information Report against Siddharth Varadarajan, the Editor-in-chief of The Wire. A police action in the form of an FIR under criminal laws at this stage is over-reaction and an act of intimidation".
The Guild also said it was "deeply perturbed" over the government's statement in Supreme Court blaming the media for the exodus of migrant workers amid the lockdown over coronavirus.
"Blaming the media at this juncture can only undermine the current work being done under trying circumstances. Such charges can also obstruct in the process of dissemination of news during an unprecedented crisis facing the country. No democracy in the world is fighting the pandemic by gagging its media," the statement read.
"The Guild believes for sure that the media must be responsible, free and fair. But such interference can only undermine those goals," it added.