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UP: Protest Against Journalists’ Arrest in Ballia Grows Louder, Call For 'Ballia Bandh' Tomorrow

Journalists Ajit Kumar Ojha, Digvijay Singh and Manoj Gupta from UP's Ballia district were earlier arrested in connection with a paper leak.
journalist UP.

Lucknow: Local journalists took out a march in Prayagraj on Friday to protest against the arrest of their three colleagues in connection with the leak of the 12th standard English exam paper of the Uttar Pradesh board.

Hundreds of scribes under the banner of Allahabad News Reporters gathered at the Gandhi Bhawan here and marched up to the collectorate. They also handed a memorandum addressed to the governor to Additional District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar Khatri.

Club president Ashok Chaturvedi said, "A demand for immediate withdrawal of cases against the arrested scribes and their release, probe into the role of Ballia's DM and SP, and a judicial inquiry in the entire matter has been made in the memorandum."

Condemning the police's "highhandedness", the union urged the district administration to tender an apology to the journalists arrested by police personnel and take appropriate action against the erring officer.

Various political parties, student unions and civil societies have also supported the movement of journalists.

Earlier, on Monday, under the banner of the Rural Journalists' Association, hundreds of scribes held demonstrations with their counterparts. The journalists had demanded the immediate release of the three journalists and to punish the guilty officials by conducting a high-level inquiry into the matter.

Journalists Ajit Kumar Ojha, Digvijay Singh, and Manoj Gupta from UP's Ballia district were earlier arrested in connection with the leak of the 12th standard's English exam paper of the Uttar Pradesh board.

Three FIRs were lodged under sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Uttar Pradesh Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 1998, and IT Act with Kotwali, Nagra and Sikandarpur police stations.

"Bail pleas of the three journalists - Ajit Ojha, Digvijay Singh and Manoj Kumar Gupta - were rejected in the lower court in Ballia on Tuesday. Their bail plea had been submitted before the session court on Wednesday," said their lawyer Mithilesh Kumar Singh, adding that the hearing date on the bail plea is awaited.


Following the rejection of the bail pleas, a group of local journalists under the banner of Samyukta Patrakar Sangharsh Morcha began an indefinite sit-in stir at the district headquarter. The stir has been converted into a token hunger strike and entered its fourth day on Friday.


Madhusudan Singh, an editor of the Ballia Express and chief general secretary of Rashtriya Patrakar Mahasangh, one of the journalists' organisations taking part in this protest, said, "Apart from contesting in court for justice for our three colleagues, we are continuing the protest in support of the demands, including suspension of the district magistrate and superintendent of police for taking action against those who exposed the paper leak incident."

"We are also demanding withdrawal of cases against three journalists and proper investigation in allotting UP Board examination centres to unaided institutions as it would expose a major scam," said Madhusudan Singh.

Meanwhile, a joint forum of local journalists' unions, student unions and local businessmen called for a 'District Bandh' on April 16 in protest against the journalists' arrest and the callous attitude shown by the district administration in their handling of the case.

"The Samyukta Patrakar Sangharsh Morcha has decided to shut down the district, and we got support from student unions, political parties and local businessmen. Though the police officials are leaving no stone unturned to threaten shopkeepers and stop them from participating in the bandh, they will show their resistance against police atrocities against journalists," local journalist Kauser Usman, who runs a website named Ballia Khabar, told NewsClick.

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