Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government continues to crackdown on those sharing ‘objectionable’ content against Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on social media, with two people being arrested and three more being booked over the weekend. One of those booked was merely tagged in a Facebook post with the ‘defamatory’ content.
Nearly all of the cases — filed in Gorakhpur, Basti, Fatehpur and Sant Kabir Nagar — relate to the video of a woman proposing marriage to the chief minister that led to the arrests of journalists Prashant Kanojia, Anuj Shukla and Ishika Singh.
The new people booked by the UP police include a village head who claimed to be a smartphone novice, having accidentally posted a fake wedding invite in a local police WhatsApp group and a Gorakhpur farmer who shared the invite and wondered if the wedding would have a DJ or bhajans.
The new cases have been filed under sections 500 and 505 of the IPC and 65 and 66 of the IT Act. These sections have already attracted criticism after they were registered in the FIRs against Kanojia, a freelance journalist as well as Shukla and Singh, both of the Noida-based news channel Nation Live.
Kanojia was Monday sent to 14-day-long judicial custody while his family has approached the Supreme Court. Shukla and Singh were booked for broadcasting the woman’s statement. They have been booked in a second FIR that relates to alleged fraud for allegedly not having a license to run the news channel.
‘DJ bajega ya bhajan’: Post lands man in jail, friend is booked
Among those now arrested for sharing objectionable content against Adityanath is Peer Mohammad, a farmer from Gola village in Gorakhpur, who wondered if the wedding would have DJs or bhajans (devotional songs). The Gorakhpur police told ThePrint that at around 7 pm Sunday, they were alerted about a social media post by Mohammad with a reference to the woman’s claims against the chief minister.
“A resident of Gola village area, Peer Mohammad, has been arrested for sharing a wedding card on Facebook with the comment saying — DJ bajega ya bhajan. He is judicial custody for 14 days,” said Satish Shukla, Gola Circle Officer (DSP rank), Gorakhpur police.
The Gorakhpur police have also slapped charges against Mohammad’s Facebook friend, Dharmendra Bharti, who was tagged in the post. The charges include IPC sections 503 (criminal intimidation), 505 (statements conducing public mischief) and section 65 and 66 Act of the Information Act, police said.
“The other accused also hails from the same locality but he is currently in Muscat,” Shukla said. “The arrested accused is a village resident and earns a living through farming.”
The other arrest was at Basti district, where Bashkor Kala village pradhan Akhlaq Ahmed was held after being booked under clause (2) of IPC section 505 at the Rudhauli police station area. Ahmed had allegedly shared a fake wedding invite for the chief minister on a local police WhatsApp group.
“He did not write anything in the message but shared the invite. He has been sent to judicial custody for 14 days,” said Ashok Kumar Verma, SHO, Rudhauli police station, Basti. “He claimed that he had forwarded it by mistake and that he was not adept at using the mobile applications so he could not delete his post on the group.”
Two more booked for ‘fake wedding invite’
In Fatehpur district, an FIR was lodged against Raju Singh Yadav, who is currently in Mumbai, for allegedly sharing the fake wedding invite on Facebook. According to the FIR, the complaint had been registered by a local Hindi newspaper journalist, who was linked to the accused via Facebook. The complaint alleges that around 8 pm on 7 June, Yadav shared the fake wedding invite along with “objectionable words”.
“The FIR has been lodged under IPC sections relating to promoting enmity. Raids are being conducted to nab him,” said a public relations officer attached to Fatehpur superintendent of police.
Another such case was reported from Sant Kabir Nagar district in Eastern UP from about two to three days ago. No arrests have been made in the case.
“An FIR was registered for sharing some objectionable post but sections invoked in the case do not mandate arrests since the punishment term is below seven years. But we will file a charge-sheet in the matter,” Sant Kabir Nagar SSP Akash Tomar told ThePrint.