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‘Authoritarian Misuse of Laws’: Editors Guild Condemns Arrest of Journalists

Independent journalist Prashant Kanojia, and the editor and the head of television channel Nation Live — Ishita Singh and Anuj Shukla — were arrested by U.P. police.

New Delhi, Jun 9 (PTI) The Editors Guild Sunday condemned the arrest of a journalist, and the editor and head of a television channel over alleged objectionable content related to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, describing the police action as an “authoritarian misuse of laws” and an effort to intimidate the press.

An FIR was registered against Noida based journalist Prashant Kanojia at Hazratganj police station in Lucknow on Friday night in which it was alleged that the accused made “objectionable comments against the CM and tried to malign his image.”

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.

While the editor and the head of a Noida-based television channel, Nation Live — Ishita Singh and Anuj Shukla  were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh government, the Guild said.

Also Read: #FreePrashantNow: What Modi 2.0 Means For Press Freedom In India

“The police action is high-handed, arbitrary and amounts to an authoritarian misuse of laws,” the Guild said in a statement.

The Guild sees it as an effort to intimidate the press and stifle freedom of expression, the statement said.

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, it said.

The television channel had broadcast a video on the same issue, the Guild said.

“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,” the Guild statement said.

Also Read: Noida: TV Channel Head, Editor Arrested For Airing ‘Defamatory’ Content Against CM Adityanath

To give the police powers to arrest, provisions of Section 66 of the IT Act have also been added, it said.

As with a recent case in Karnataka that the Guild spoke about, the FIR in this case is also not filed by the person allegedly affected but suo motu by the police, the Guild noted.

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