Updated: April 13, 2020 2:31:52 pm
Days after registering two FIRs against the “editor of The Wire” for making allegedly objectionable remarks against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a team of Ayodhya police arrived at the home of the news website’s founding-editor Siddharth Varadarajan in Delhi on Friday and served a notice, asking him to appear on April 14.
In a series of tweets on Friday, the day the police team appeared at their residence around 2 pm, Varadarajan’s wife, Nandini Sundar, professor of Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics, mentioned that he has been asked to appear in Ayodhya even when the “lockdown will still be in force”.
Confirming that local police personnel had gone to Delhi to serve the notice, asking Varadarajan to appear before April 14 to get his statement recorded in the case, Ayodhya Circle officer Amar Singh said the team was accompanied by a policeman from Delhi.
Asked how Varadarajan can appear before Ayodhya police at a time when the lockdown is in place, Station House Officer at Ayodhya Police Station Suresh Pandey said on Sunday, “I spoke to the editor of The Wire today and asked him to send his statement through email. He agreed to send his statement by tomorrow.”
Two cases were lodged on April 1 – at City Kotwali and Ayodhya Kotwali Police Station – the former against unknown editor of The Wire and the second against one “Siddharth”.
SHO Pandey said, “The FIR lodged at City Kotwali has been merged with the case lodged at Ayodhya police station because both FIRs are related to the same incident.”
Varadarajan had, in a statement on April 1, said, “What the FIR says I have stated – that Chief Minister Adityanath attended a public religious event in Ayodhya on March 25 after the Prime Minister had announced a national lockdown – is a matter of record.”
He also stated, “UP Police seems to think its job is to go at those who criticise the CM. The registration of an FIR is a blatant attack on the freedom of the press.”
Following the FIR, the Editors Guild of India had said in a statement on April 2 that the “FIR under criminal laws at this stage is an overreaction and an act of intimidation”. It stated: “Any such intimidation of the media or blaming the media for mass migration of workers will be counterproductive. Such actions will be tantamount to disabling the messenger.”
On Friday, Nandini Sundar stated in multiple tweets, “When it comes to gross abuse of police power by the Adityanath administration in UP and its intolerance of press freedom, it is clear that COVID-19, the lockdown and social distancing make no difference…. at 2 pm a plainclothes (police) man came to our home and said he had come from Ayodhya ‘prashasan’ to serve notice on @svaradarajan. He would not give his name. I told him to leave it in the mailbox. He refused.”
At 3.20 pm, she posted, this policeman and “7-8 uniformed men (at least 2 not in masks)” returned in “a black SUV, no number plates. Only 2 identified themselves. On insisting, they gave plainclothesman’s name as Chanderbhan Yadav, not designation. Cops said they’d driven from Ayodhya for this essential service!”
SHO Pandey called it a “false allegation” that the Ayodhya police personnel who had gone to serve the notice were not wearing masks and were in civil clothes.
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