- A total of five people were arrested in two days
- They were accused of posting objectionable content about Yogi Adityanath
- Congress termed the journalists' arrests "illegal" and "arbitrary"
Congress president Rahul Gandhi today condemned the arrest of three journalists for allegedly "defaming" Yogi Adityanath, saying the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister was "behaving foolishly". The arrests over the weekend sparked a huge debate on social media on freedom of expression in the country.
A total of five people, including freelance journalist Prashant Kanojia, were arrested in two days on charges of posting allegedly objectionable content about the Chief Minister. The Supreme Court today ordered that Mr Kanojia be immediately released on bail while hearing a petition filed by his wife who had challenged his arrest.
"If every journalist who files a false report or peddles fake, vicious RSS/BJP sponsored propaganda about me is put in jail, most newspapers/ news channels would face a severe staff shortage. The UP CM is behaving foolishly & needs to release the arrested journalists," Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
If every journalist who files a false report or peddles fake, vicious RSS/BJP sponsored propaganda about me is put in jail, most newspapers/ news channels would face a severe staff shortage.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) June 11, 2019
The UP CM is behaving foolishly & needs to release the arrested journalists. https://t.co/KtHXUXbgKS
The Congress had termed the journalists' arrests "illegal" and "arbitrary".
Prashant Kanojia, a freelance journalist, was arrested by Uttar Pradesh police in Delhi on Saturday for a tweet that had "objectionable comments" on Yogi Adityanath. Mr Kanojia, was picked up from his home in Delhi after a complaint by a police officer in Lucknow, alleging he tried to "malign" Yogi Adityanath's image. He had shared a video on Twitter and Facebook where a woman is seen speaking to reporters of various media organisations outside Yogi Adityanath's office, claiming that she had sent him a marriage proposal.
The same evening, Ishita Singh, who heads private news channel Nation Live, and Anuj Shukla, its editor, were arrested in Noida. During a debate on the channel on June 6, the woman, whose video was shared by Prashant Kanojia, had allegedly made defamatory statements against Yogi Adityanath, the police said.
Two more people were arrested in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, the Chief Minister's stronghold, on Sunday evening. According to a tweet by police, one man was arrested after a complaint against him was received on Twitter. He was arrested for posting "objectionable content" about the BJP leader.
Reacting to Mr Gandhi's tweet, the Karnataka BJP took a swipe at Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, accusing him of openly threatening and abusing journalists in the state. The Janata Dal (Secular) tweeted, "@BJP4Karnataka So you''re accepting that you and your supporters peddle fake news & end up in jail? Must be pretty tough acknowledging it. Next step is, understanding peddling fake news with malicious intention is not FoE. Third step is, Stop. Peddling. Fake. News!"
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