Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's visit to the Moradabad District Hospital on Sunday raked up a huge controversy, as a dozen local journalists, who were at the spot, alleged that they were locked up by the District Magistrate (DM) in an emergency room of a hospital.
They further alleged that this was done to prevent them from asking questions about the pathetic state of the hospitals and deteriorating condition of the health sector.
According to the reports, the journalists also claimed that there were security guards and even the civil line police station in-charge guarded the hospital gates so that “the journalists could not come out during the CM’s visit on Saturday”.
Soon after the CM left the hospital premises, DM Rakesh Kumar Singh allegedly came and unlocked the gate, holding the journalists. He also reportedly asked mediapersons not to visit the district hospital again.
However, the District Magistrate has refuted these allegations.
“Requested media persons not to go inside the ward with Honble Cm because it was not good for patients health…..only place police personnel in corridors so that inspection can be done peacefully by CM sir…after completion of inspection media persons are there before departure,” he tweeted.
Commenting on the incident, Waqi Rasheed, who runs a newspaper in Moradabad, told NewsClick, "When I reached the spot, the CM had left already. The DM had not issued any press card to journalists to cover CM's visit. Reporters had reached the hospital by themselves and had started following the CM. Then, suddenly, hospital staff asked them to wait in a room. They were told that once the CM returns after the inspection, they can meet him. But when the journalists reached the room, they were locked up by the security guards. Even after the CM left, they were locked up so that they could not ask questions about the hospital.”
Rasheed further alleged that the DM asked the journalists not to visit the hospital without any invitation.
A local journalist, who was allegedly locked up, told NewsClick, on the condition of anonymity, “When we knocked on the gate and asked why we were locked up liked this, they refused to open the gate, saying that there are so many journalists and everyone cannot ask questions to the CM. When the CM left in front of our eyes, the DM called up a police inspector, and asked him keep an eye so that we cannot reach the CM.”
When asked about the condition of the Moradabad district hospital, he said, “Not only Moradabad, the district hospitals in Uttar Pradesh are all in abysmal condition and this is the reason we were stopped from meeting the CM.”
This is not the first time that journalists in Uttar Pradesh have faced the wrath of the government. A few weeks ago, three journalists were arrested for making allegedly objectionable comments on CM Adityanath. Delhi-based freelance journalist Prashant Kanojia was and a few other Noida-based journalists were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police for ‘objectionable’ social media posts.