Delhi-based freelance journalist Prashant Kanojia was on Saturday arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police for ‘objectionable’ social media posts related to UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
According to a report, an FIR was registered against Kanojia, who was earlier working for news website, The Wire, by a sub-inspector at Hazratganj police station in Lucknow on Friday night. The FIR alleged that the accused made "objectionable comments against the CM and tried to malign his image".
On June 6, the journalist had retweeted a video from a media outfit on his verified Twitter handle which showed a woman professing her love for Adityanath and claiming that since the past one year she was in touch with him state chief minister. The video shows various TV microphones in front of her, indicting the she was speaking with the media.
Kanojia, while retweeting the video commented: Love cannot be hidden Yogij’. Incidentally, news related to the purported video was published by various media outfits.
According to Hindi daily, Dainik Jagran, taking the seriousness of the isse into consideration, a joint team of the state cyber crime cell and Hazratganj Police had left for Delhi to arrest the accused journalist. State officials were tight-lipped on the matter.
When Newsclick spoke to Radha Raan Singh, inspector in the Hazratganj police station in Lucknow, over the phone, he said: “We have been asked not to speak on this issue. We cannot give you any information on this matter.”
Meanwhile, Kanojia’s wife, Jagisha Arora, said: “Prashant had gone out to buy some things. When he did not return after half an hour, I called him. He whispered and told me that two policemen are outside the house and are taking me away in connection with some tweet on on Yogi Adityanath. While going, he asked me to inform all the people I knew. After that he left.”
She further said that when she tried to call his number again, he told her that he was being taken to Lucknow. “ He could speak further as probably the police were not allowing him to do so,” she said.
After the news broke out, several journalists and right organisations took to social media to air their views about thos being an attack on ‘freedom of expression.”
Pasting a screenshot of Kanojia’s tweet, Siddharth Varadarajan, the co-founder of The Wire, wrote: “Shocking for UP cops to arrest anyone for posting this news clip with a comment of his own. Adityanath perhaps doesn't know this woman and may consider the fact that Prashant took her claim of having video-chatted with him at face value 'objectionable'. But arrest is abuse of law.”
Lucknow University’s student leader Pooja Shukla in a Facebook post, called upon her colleagues to gather and reach the Hazratganj police station, to demand immediate release of Kanojia.
Meanwhile, a senior police official who initially said that the journalist has been arrested, later clarified to PTI that no arrest has yet taken place. The official said police were trying to "question" the journalist.