In the wake of an FIR filed against a reporter in Mirzapur, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday hit out at the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh over press freedom as she accused it of “constantly targeting” journalists who seek answers from it.
Tagging a news report, Priyanka wrote on Twitter, “Patrakar kewal aankh par patti bandh kar waah-waahi ke liye nahi hotey. Unka kaam hota hai janta ke muddon par khabrein banana aur sarkar se jawab lena… Lekin Uttar Pradesh BJP sarkar aise patrakaron par lagatar hamla bol rahi hai. Kya BJP ko aam janta ke muddon ka dar satta raha hai (Journalists are not for just to praise by wearing blindfolds. Their job is to raise the issue of public and question the government. But the BJP government is constantly targeting such journalists. Is the BJP government troubled with the issues of the common people).”
The BJP hit back with minister Srikant Sharma tweeting a purported video of Priyanka’s aides “threatening a journalist” during her recent visit to a Sonbhadra village.
“Shrimati Priyanka Gandhi ki masumiyat ke hum kayal hain. Shayad unhone yeh video nahi dekha, jismein unka ek gurga sare aam patrakaron ko thonk dene aur dekh lene ki dhamki de raha hai. BJP pe sawal uthaane se pehle Congress ka charitra dekh lein (I am fond of the innocence of Priyanka Gandhi. I believe that she has not seen the video, where her aide is openly threatening a journalist. Before raising a finger at the BJP, the Congress should first look into their own character),” Sharma, who is also the spokesperson of the UP government, tweeted.
Priyanka’s attack came after a series of arrests of journalists and cases filed against them in the state in the last few weeks.
On September 2, police in Mirzapur had lodged a case against Pawan Jaiswal, a correspondent of Jansandesh Times, on charges of criminal conspiracy and fraud for recording a video of children at a government school being served roti and salt as part of the midday meal.
Last week, Bijnor police registered an FIR against two journalists for alleged “fake news” of a Dalit family “being not allowed to collect water from a village hand pump”.
Four days ago, police in Azamgarh arrested a 30-year-old journalist of a Hindi newspaper for allegedly trying to extort money from government teachers of a primary school and preventing them from discharging their duty.