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Over 160 Journalists Decry UP Govt’s Move to Muzzle Media

In a statement, the journalist fraternity strongly condemned the FIRs filed against Siddharth Varadarajan, co-Founder-Editor of news portal, The Wire, by the Uttar Pradesh government.

New Delhi: At a time when there’s in countrywide distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated lockdown, the Uttar Pradesh government’s move to muzzle media voices has angered the media fraternity. 

A statement endorsed by 165 journalists across the country has condemned the “politically motivated harassment of media persons,” citing the recent FIRs filed against news portal, The Wire’s, co-founding editor Siddharth Varadarajan, for an article published in the portal. The copies of the FIRs were promptly circulated on Twitter by the media adviser to chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

The said article refers to a matter of “public record” and whatever it error had, was rectified and published prominently, yet the UP Police filed FIRS and landed up in the Delhi residence of Varadarajan, asking him to appear in the Ayodhya court, despite no availability of transport during the lockdown.

“The manner in which the U.P government and its police have been pursuing this with a single-minded agenda smacks of vindictiveness. The state has an extra responsibility to exercise restraint on use of its powers when citizens are restricted in exercising many of their usual democratic rights. Freedom of the press is doubly important in such a context as people cannot make news themselves, but independent media is the most important medium of expressing their concerns,” read the statement.

It may be recalled that there have also been recent incidents of the UP government slapping cases on some journalists who reported the pathetic condition of mid-day meals being served in the state.

On April 3, the Editors Guild of India also issued a statement describing the FIR against Varadarajan as an “overreaction” and “intimidation”.

Demanding immediate withdrawal of the FIRs and charges against Varadarajan, the Delhi Union of Journalists, condemned the UP government for  “settling scores” at a time when journalists across the country were risking their lives to report developments vital to the control of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full statement below:

More than 100 journalists condemn attempts to muzzle the media

Statement dated April 11, 2020

We, the undersigned members of the journalist fraternity strongly condemn the FIRs filed against Siddharth Varadarajan, Founding Editor of the Wire by the Uttar Pradesh government. This constitutes nothing but a brazen attempt to muzzle the media. The Wire was accused of causing panic when it reported that UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath attended a religious event on March 25 at Ayodhya on the occasion of Ram Navmi, when a national lockdown was in force.

The Wire has held that the CM's presence was a matter of public record and knowledge. A sentence in an article in the Wire had wrongly attributed a statement made by Acharya Paramhans to the chief minister, which was not only retracted but a corrigendum issued as well.

Rather than let the matter end there, a FIR was filed in Faizabad district. On April 10, a team of the UP police descended at Siddharth Varadarajan's residence to serve him a notice for appearing on April 14, irrespective of the fact that a nationwide lockdown was in force. The manner in which the U.P government and its police have been pursuing this with a single-minded agenda smacks of vindictiveness. The state has an extra responsibility to exercise restraint on use of its powers when citizens are restricted in exercising many of their usual democratic rights. Freedom of the press is doubly important in such a context as people cannot make news themselves, but independent media is the most important medium of expressing their concerns. We demand that such politically motivated harassment of media persons should stop immediately.

Supported and endorsed by:

1. Shobhna Jain,Sr. Journalist

2. T.K Rajalakshmi, Frontline

3. Sonal Kellogg, Independent Journalist

4. Aruna Singh, Independent Journalist

5. Ravinder Bawa, Independent Journalist

6. Neelam Jeena,Sr, Correspondent, Sandhya Jyoti Darpan Daily

7. Parul Sharma, Independent Journalist.

8. Venkitesh Ramakrishnan, Sr Associate Editor, Frontline

9. Anuradha Bhasin, Editor, Kashmir Times

10. Sajjad Haider, Editor, Kashmir Observer

11. Saif Khalid, Deputy Editor, Al Jazeera

12. Priti Prakash, Editor, facenfacts

13. Parul Jain, Freelancer

14, Anjali Deshpande, Independent Journalist.

15. Sujata Madhok, Independent Journalist.

16. Seema Mustafa, Editor, The Citizen

17. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Senior Journalist

18. Saroj Dhuliya, Navbharat times.

19. Aditi Nigam, Newsclick

20. Anju Grover, Independent Journalist.

21. Kiran Shaheen, Independent Journalist.

22. Karuna John, Independent Journalist.

23. Vidya Subramaniam, Independent Journalist

24. Sumita Mehta, Sr. Journalist

25. Rashmi Sehgal, Sr. Journalist

26. Ashlin Mathew, journalist

27. Hema Ramakrishnan, Senior journalist

28. Anjali Ojha, Journalist

29. Subodh Verma, Newsclick

30. A.M. Jigeesh, Business Line.

31. Ajoy Ashirwaad, The Wire

32. Iftikhar Geelani, Senior Journalist

33. Majid Maqbool, Contributor, Foreign Policy, The Globe Post

34. Teesta Setalvad, Senior Journalist

35. Majid Hyderi, Independent journalist and TV commentator

36. P L Vincent, senior journalist

37. Rosalyn D'Mello, Freelancer

38. Praveen Khariwal, President, Press club of MP

39. Gautam Lahiri, Senior Journalist

40. Qazi, Journalist

41. A.J. Phillip, Senior Journalist

42. Jose Kalathil, Senior Journalist

43. Ramesh Menon, Contributing Editor, India Legal

44. Albert Thyrniang, Contributor, Shillong Times

45. Avtar Negi, Senior Journalist

46. Dr John Dayal, former treasurer, Editors' Guild of India, Author

47. Neha Dixit, Independent journalist

48. Sonia Khurana, Visual artist

49. Shuddhabrata Sengupta, artist and writer

50. Akshaya Mukul, Journalist and writer

51. Revati Laul, Independent Journalist

52. Manoj Mitta, Journalist and author

53. Divya Trivedi, Frontline

54. Arti Jaiman, Community broadcaster

55. Nirmal John, journalist and author

56. Anando Bhakto, Frontline

57. Shweta Rashmi, Independent Journalist

58. Neerja Chowdhury, Senior Journalist

59. Anita Saluja, Senior Journalist

60. Aniruddha Bahal, Senior Journalist

61. Jeejo Augustine, Senior Journalist, Borneo Bulletin

62. Ravivarma , Navamalayali current affairs online ( political editor )

63. Shankar Raghuraman, Senior journalist

64. P K Datta, Senior journalist

65. Debashis Chatterji, Senior journalist

66. G.Shankar, President, Kerala Patrapravarthaka Association

67. Shastri Ramachandaran,Senior journalist,(Editorial Consultant, WION)

68. Purnima Tripathi, Frontline

69. Pankaj Molekhi, senior journalist

70. Akshay Deshmane, Huffington Post.

71. Ammu Joseph, Journalist and author

72. Gokul Krishnamoorthy. Independent Columnist (ET Brand Equity, Financial Express).

73. Anand Kochukudy, Editor, The Kochi Post

74. T V Jayan, Senior Deputy Editor, Hindu Business Line

75. Shajahan Madampat, Columnist, Outlook

76. Ajaz Ashraf, Freelancer.

77. Gayatri J, Consultant, Sabha TV, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

78. VM Deepa, Senior Consultant, Sabha TV, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

79. V. Venkatesan, Frontline

80. Sundeep Dougal, Independent Journalist

81. Raksha Kumar, Independent journalist

82. Sushma Varma, Senior Journalist

83. Laxmi Murthy, Independent Journalist

84. VK Raveendran, Editor, Gaddhika Daily, Payyannuur, Kerala

85. Rajaram S, Senior Executive Editor, Carees360

86. Preetha Nair, Outlook magazine

87. Sukumar Muralidharan, Freelance Journalist.

88. P. V. Thomas, Freelance Journalist.

89. Swati Goswami, Independent Writer, Ahmedabad

90. Priya Raveendran, Senior Consultant, Sabha TV, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

91. Nirmesh Singh, AgriNation

92. Saimi Sattar, The Pioneer

93. Bishakha De Sarkar, The Hindu Business Line

94. Smitha Verma, freelance journalist

95. Japleen Pasricha,

96. Preeti Mehra, journalist, New Delhi

97. Sudhanva Deshpande, publisher

98. Anita Dube, Artist, Gr. Noida

99. Asad Ashraf, Independent journalist

100. Samita Bhatia, Lifestyle writer

101. Jagan Negi freelance, Photo-Journalist

102. Neethu Eldose, Journalist

103. Sunil Menon, Outlook magazine

104. N.B. Nair, Executive Editor, Indian Science Journal

105. Ajith Pillai, journalist

106. Gargi Parsai, Senior Journalist

107. Saroj Nagi, Senior Journalist

108. Dhamini, Journalist

109. Dr Suresh Mathew, Editor, Indian Currents Weekly

110. Raza Haider, Documentary filmmaker

111. Nupur Basu, Documentary filmmaker

112. Kay Benedict, Freelance

113. P.M. Narayanan, Chief Producer, South Asia, ARD, German TV

114. Geeta Seshu, Co-editor, Free Speech by Collective\

115. Kushal Jeena, Journalist

116. Ziya Us Salam, Frontline

117. Aditi Bhal, Journalist

118. Dr Mukesh Kumar, Senior Journalist

119. Shachi Chaturvedi, Senior Jornalist

120. Nadeem Ahmed, Journalist

121. Rahil Chopra, Journalist

122. Trina Shankar, Newsclick

123. Fazal Imam Mallick, Senior Journalist

124. Rukmini Anandani, Senior Journalist


125.Rithambara Shastri, Senior Journalist


126. Sagari Chhabra, Filmmaker


127. Anita Katyal, Senior Columnist


128. Kuldeep Kumar, Senior Columnist


129. Roja. S, Senior Content Coordinator, Sabha Tv


130. Sruthisagar Yamunan,


131. Arvind Tiwat, Indore Press Club


132. Saurabh Duggal, Chandigarh Press Club


133. Shruti Chaturvedi


134. Natasha Badhwar, Author/Filmmaker


135.Charu Soni, Independent Journalist


136. Brinelle D’Souza


137. Aftab Ahmed


138. Shambhavi


139. Aesha Datta/Economic Times


140. Amiti Sen/ Hindu Business Line


141.Renu Mittal, Senior Journalist


142. M M Dileep, Senior Journalist


143.Cedric Prakash, Senior Journalist


144. Mrinal Vallari, Janasatta


145. Usha Rai, Senior Journalist


146. Shubha Singh, Senior Journalist


147. Sujata Mathur, Senior Journalist


148.Tripta Batra, Senior Journalist


149. Syed Nooruzzaman, Senior Journalist


150. Francis Arackal, Senior Journalist


151. Bindu Abraham, Senior Journalist


152. Lijo Thomas, Senior Journalist


153. Lissy M, Senior Journalist


154. Wilson Kappati, Senior Journalist


155.  Ignatious Gonsalves, Senior Journalist


156. Anil Thomas, Senior Journalist


157.Jose Kavi, Senior Journalist


158. Tessy Jacob, Senior Journalist


159. F M Britto, Senior Journalist


160. Asrar Khan, Senior Journalist


161. B P Dobhal, Senior Journalist


162. Vineeta Pandey, Senior Journalist


163. Gowhar Geelani, Senior Journalist


164. Dinesh Kadam, Writer


165. Antara Dev Sen, Writer/Journalist 


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