Newsroom, Jun 9: The Editors Guild of India and several media associations have strongly condemned the arrests of three journalists - Prashant Kanojia, Ishita Singh and Anuj Shukla, for sharing and broadcasting a woman’s comment on Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
While freelance journalist Kanojia was arrested for his Twitter activity, Ishita Singh and Anuj Shukla, the head and editor of the private television news channel Nation Liverespectively, for broadcasting a report against the CM.
"The police action is high-handed, arbitrary and amounts to an authoritarian misuse of laws. The Guild sees it as an effort to intimidate the press, and stifle freedom of expression," said a statement issued by the Editors Guild.
In a separate statement, several media associations expressed shock over the police action, calling it a clear case of administrative overreach.
"As media-persons, it is our firm belief that journalists ought to conduct themselves responsibly, yet at the same time, we feel that criminal provisions of the defamation law should be taken off the statute books, given their repeated use against journalists and others," said a statement collectively signed by the Indian Women's Press Corps (IWPC), Press Club of India (PCI), South Asian Women in the Media (SAWM, India), Press Association.
The media bodies urged the UP government to withdraw the criminal defamation charges against all three journalists.
Kanojia had shared a video on Twitter and Facebook where a woman is seen speaking to reporters of various media organisations outside the CM office claiming that she had sent a marriage proposal to the CM. The woman claimed to be Adityanath’s lover saying says she wanted to spend her life with him.
"The FIR is based on the journalist sharing on Twitter the video of a woman claiming a “relationship” with the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. The television channel had broadcast a video on the same issue. Whatever the accuracy of the woman’s claims, to register a case of criminal defamation against the journalists for sharing it on the social media and airing it on a television channel is a brazen misuse of law. To give the police powers to arrest, provisions of Section 66 of the IT Act have also been added," the Editors Guild said.
Editors Guild, media groups slam arrest of journalists for airing woman’s comment on Yogi