Congress president Rahul Gandhi condemned the arrest of three journalists by Uttar Pradesh for allegedly “defaming” Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and called for their release. The arrests over the weekend sparked a huge debate on social media on freedom of expression in the country.
A total of five people, including freelance journalist Prashant Kanojia, were arrested in two days on charges of posting allegedly objectionable content about the Chief Minister.
The Congress had termed the journalists’ arrests “illegal” and “arbitrary”.
Prashant Kanojia, a freelance journalist, was arrested by Uttar Pradesh police in Delhi on Saturday for a tweet that had “objectionable comments” on Yogi Adityanath. Mr Kanojia, was picked up from his home in Delhi after a complaint by a police officer in Lucknow, alleging he tried to “malign” Yogi Adityanath’s image. He had shared a video on Twitter and Facebook where a woman is seen speaking to reporters of various media organisations outside Yogi Adityanath’s office, claiming that she had sent him a marriage proposal.
The same evening, Ishita Singh, who heads private news channel Nation Live, and Anuj Shukla, its editor, were arrested in Noida. During a debate on the channel on June 6, the woman, whose video was shared by Prashant Kanojia, had allegedly made defamatory statements against Yogi Adityanath, the police said.
Two more people were arrested in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, the Chief Minister’s stronghold, on Sunday evening. According to a tweet by police, one man was arrested after a complaint against him was received on Twitter. He was arrested for posting “objectionable content” about the BJP leader.