Congress president Rahul Gandhi Tuesday condemned the arrest of three journalists by the Uttar Pradesh police for allegedly “defaming” Yogi Adityanath, and said the Chief Minister was behaving “foolishly”. Gandhi tweeted minutes before the Supreme Court ordered the immediate release of freelance journalist Prashant Kanojia. The Congress had termed the journalists’ arrests “illegal” and “arbitrary”.
“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,” Gandhi tweeted.
The Karnataka unit of the BJP was quick to hit back, and called the Congress chief a “human version of hypocrisy”. Citing an example of Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, who runs a coalition government with the Congress in the state, it tweeted: “Your CM @hd_kumaraswamy openly threatens & abuses journalists. Journalist Santosh Thammaiah arrested for speaking against atrocity of Tippu. FIR filed on @VishweshwarBhat for reporting on CM’s sons behaviour.”
Your CM @hd_kumaraswamy openly threatens & abuses journalists.
Journalist Santosh Thammaiah arrested for speaking against atrocity of Tippu.
FIR filed on @VishweshwarBhat for reporting on CM’s sons behaviour.
You’re exactly how a human version of ‘Hypocrisy’ would look like. https://t.co/MWkmrrxqc3
— BJP Karnataka (@BJP4Karnataka) June 11, 2019
The Karnataka Police has registered an FIR against Kannada newspaper Vishwavani, and its owner-Editor Vishweshwar Bhat for publishing a news report that alleged that Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil had verbally abused his grandfather Deve Gowda and blamed him for his defeat in Mandya Lok Sabha seat.
The apex court Tuesday granted Kanojia bail after observing that “the liberty of a citizen is sacrosanct and non-negotiable” and that “it is guaranteed by the Constitution and it cannot be infringed”. The bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi said granting bail does not mean that it approves of the journalist’s tweets or posts on social media.
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.
जनता के मुद्दों पर काम करने की बजाय, उत्तर प्रदेश सरकार पत्रकारों, किसानों, प्रतिनिधियों पर डर का डंडा चला रही है। https://t.co/gm50MlivjG
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also slammed the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh over the arrest journalists. “Instead of working on people’s issues, the UP government is instilling fear in journalists, farmers, and representatives,” she said in a tweet.