Freelance journalist Prashant Kanojia’s wife Monday moved the Supreme Court challenging his arrest by the Uttar Pradesh police for allegedly “propagating defamatory content” against Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, news agency PTI reported. The case will be taken up on Tuesday.
Kanojia had allegedly uploaded a video on Twitter in which a woman is heard making some claims about Adityanath. Kanojia had posted a comment with the video. The head of a Noida-based news channel that had broadcast the video that Kanojia posted has also been arrested, along with one of the editors of the channel. A fourth person Raju Singh Yadav was arrested today morning for allegedly uploading morphed photographs of the CM and the Kanpur-based woman on his Facebook account.
An FIR was lodged against Kanojia at Lucknow’s Hazratganj police station under Sections 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) and 500 (defamation) of the IPC, and Section 67 of The Information Technology Act (publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) on a complaint filed by Sub-Inspector Vikas Kumar, Investigating Officer Sub-Inspector Vijender Mishra said.
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Kanojia’s wife Jagisha Arora said, “We don’t know the woman in the video either. It’s sarcasm and that’s not a crime… Will the police arrest everyone who questions the government? I stand by his right to post anything on social media.”
The Editors Guild of India condemned the arrests and called the police action “high-handed, arbitrary and amounting to an authoritarian misuse of laws”. In a statement released on Sunday, it said the arrests were “an effort to intimidate the press and stifle freedom of expression”.
Meanwhile, the woman who is at the centre of the video row is “mentally unwell,” her mother said. She is being guarded by UP Police’s Local Intelligence Officers. While the woman says the police personnel are here for her “security”, the mother says they have been helpful in “stopping her from running off to Lucknow, now and then”