Uttar Pradesh Police have arrested a man for making “objectionable comments” against Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on social media.
The man’s wife told The Sunday Express that UP police personnel had picked him up from their home in Mandawali Fazalpur in East Delhi on Saturday afternoon.
Prashant Kanojia, who says he is a freelance journalist, 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.
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.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Lucknow, Kalanidhi Naithani said Kanojia had made objectionable comments on social media and spread rumours. Naithani said that police had arrested Kanojia on the basis of evidence, and that he had confessed to the crime.
IO Mishra, when asked whether the statement of the woman in the video had been recorded, said: “The case has been lodged against Prashant Kanojia for making objectionable comments, so there is no need to record the statement of the woman whose video the accused had uploaded.”
The woman in the video, however, claimed a police team had visited her home on Saturday morning and recorded her statement. “I told police officials what I was telling everyone so far,” she said on Saturday evening.
Noida Police on Saturday arrested Ishita Singh, head of Nation Live, the local channel that aired the footage of the woman, and one of its editors, Anuj Shukla, for allegedly propagating defamatory content.
An FIR has been registered under IPC Sections 505(1) (publication or circulation of statement, rumour or report with intent to incite), 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory) and 153 (provocation with intent to cause riot) at Noida Phase 3 police station, an officer said.
Police said the content was not verified before it was broadcast, and could have affected law and order. Police also claimed they had found that the channel did not have a licence to operate as a news channel, and that a case of cheating and fraud too, has been registered at Phase 3 police station against the accused.
In Delhi, Kanojia’s wife Jagisha Arora told The Sunday Express: “Around noon, when Prashant returned home after running an errand, he came inside the room and said he needed to change. He then whispered that police officials were at the door about something he tweeted on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.”
Arora said that before leaving with the men, Kanojia had asked her to “tell our known people”. “Thirty minutes later”, she said, “I called him and he said he was being taken to Lucknow.”
Arora said that an hour later, she found out that an FIR had been registered at Lucknow’s Hazratganj police station against her husband. She said that she spoke with Kanojia at 6 pm. “He told me they were on the Agra highway and that he was okay… it was just a joke, just a tweet,” Arora said.
Police in Lucknow said Kanojia belongs to UP’s Pratapgarh district. Police officers said he had told them after his arrest that he was currently not associated with any media organisation. Kanojia’s wife said she was 26, and that they had been married since October 2018.