Journalists arrested over “objectionable comments” on Yogi Adityanath

A freelance journalist, an editor of a TV channel and its owner have been arrested over contents that were considered an objectionable post on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The TV channel, Nation Live, broadcasted the comment on Yogi, which ultimately led to the chaos.

Mr Kanojia, was picked up from his home in Delhi’s West Vinod Nagar after a complaint by a police officer in Lucknow, alleging he tried to “malign” the Chief Minister’s image. He had shared a video on Twitter and Facebook where a woman is seen speaking to reporters of various media organisations outside Yogi Adityanath’s office, claiming that she had sent him a marriage proposal. Mr. Kanojia had mocked Mr Adityanath over the video and remarked in Hindi: “Ishq chupta nahi chupane se Yogi ji (love cannot be hidden).”

In a separate case, Ishika Singh, who heads private news channel Nation Live, and Anuj Shukla, its editor, were arrested in Noida on Saturday evening.

During a debate on the channel on June 6, the woman, whose video was shared by Prashant Kanojia, had allegedly made defamatory statements against Adityanath, the police said. They were arrested after workers affiliated to a political party approached the police with a complaint against the news channel for broadcasting the claims of the woman without verifying facts, a senior official said.

During investigation, it was also found that the Noida-based channel did not have any licence to operate, the police said. An additional complaint over the alleged illegal operation of the channel was made by a district official in Noida. “They have been arrested on both counts for the defamatory content as well as illegal operation of the channel,” the police officer told news agency PTI.

The Editor’s Guild of India condemned the action against the media-persons and called it “an effort to intimidate the press, and stifle freedom of expression”. Many people on Twitter condemned the journalist’s arrest. A hashtag, #FreePrashantNow, was the top trend on Twitter on Sunday, with people calling the journalist’s arrest illegal and violation of civil liberties.

“…arrest is abuse of law,” tweeted Siddharth Varadarajan, Founding Editor of The Wire where Mr Kanojia has worked in the past.

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