Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath addresses an election rally for byelections, in Bulandshahr Thursday | ANI
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath addresses an election rally for byelections, in Bulandshahr in October 2020 | ANI
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New Delhi: The Editors Guild has written to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, urging him to address the issue of press freedom and ensure the rights and safety of journalists working in the state. The letter, dated 9 November, noted that there had been several incidents in the state that raised concern over the freedom of independent journalism in Uttar Pradesh.

The Guild pointed out that the CM had “upheld the freedom of press when an editor of a TV channel was arrested in Mumbai”. This was in reference to Adityanath’s comments, made during a Bihar poll rally, that the arrest of Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami was “an assault on the fourth pillar of democracy”.

“As the Chief Minister of India’s largest state, you are well aware of the important precedence that the state sets with respect to safeguarding all constitutional rights. This is especially crucial with respect to persevering the space for free media, more so at a time when the world has been in the throes of a pandemic,” the letter stated. Its undersigned included Seema Mustafa, Guild president, Sanjay Kapoor, general secretary and Anant Nath, treasurer.

The letter further stated that there have been “compelling cases of intimidation (and) harassment by authorities” of journalists working in Uttar Pradesh.

It also listed cases that had been filed on “spurious charges” against journalists in the state. Among those mentioned were Siddique Kappan, a Delhi-based journalist working for Malayalam news portal Azhimukham, who was picked up in Mathura while on his way to report the rape in Hathras in October.

Kappan is booked under Section 17 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, with police alleging that he was part of an internationally-funded “conspiracy” to instigate caste riots in the state. Kappan is still in jail and his family hasn’t been allowed to speak to him.


Also read: J&K to Kerala, Gujarat, Bengal — Journalists across India face police action, even for tweets


Several cases of journalists facing the law

The Guild also cited the case of Supriya Sharma, executive editor of Scroll, against whom a case was registered on 18 June this year under SC/ST Act for reporting on “poor state of affairs” in Varanasi, Prime Minister Modi’s parliamentary constituency.

Cases were also filed against five journalists in Bijnor — Ashish Tomar, Shakil Ahmed, Lakhan Singh, Aamir Khan and Moin Ahmad — on 7 September for criminal intimidation and promoting enmity between religious groups.

Ravindra Saxena with Today 24 was booked for reporting about the “mismanagement” of a isolation centre in Maholi tehsil of Sitapur.

Cases were filed against Janadesh Times’ Vijay Vineet and Manish Mishra for their report that showcased the “plight” of Musher residents of Koiripur village in Varanasi where children were reported eating grass.

A Lucknow-based freelance journalist Azad Rizvi was assaulted by police on 2 October while reporting on protests in the aftermath of Hathras rape.

The letter urged Adityanath to free the jailed journalists and withdraw the cases in order to ensure safety of all journalists in the state. It also offered to send a delegation of national editors to Lucknow to explore ways in which a “protective environment” could be created for the media to function.


Also read: Victimisation of Republic TV journalists should immediately stop, Editors Guild says


 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Home Minister of India Amit Shah and many other Modi Govt. Ministers came upon heavily on Shiv Sena led Maharashtra Govt. for arresting Arnab Goswamy, of Rewpublic TV. A channel which is blaring lies and creating hate for a particular community by the channel and by his utterances day in and day out trying to put one community against another. for two reasons all of the RSS and BJP led Govts have come out openly more against the Shiv Sena led coalition Govt. than for Arnab Goswamy. the second reason is Arnab Goswamy is serving the interest of BJP Govt. and particularly Modi as well as RSS through his channel and naturally it is those very people who are arresting one after another media men and ground reporting journalists framing false charges and in many case slapping UAPA and oputting them behind the bar. It is same Modi Govt, that through its agency that is meant for eradication of terrorism is put behind the intellectuals, RTI activists, Human Rights activists and social workers and kept in jail under UAPA and they call them Urban Naxal the terminology that is discovered by RSS and BJP for years now. Freedom of press, Freedom of expression and media being the pillar of democracy applies only against the arrest of Arnab Goswamy.

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