New Delhi: Journalist Prashant Kanojia was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police Tuesday from his residence in Delhi in connection with a tweet, his wife Jagisha Arora confirmed to ThePrint.
A journalist with the Transcontinental Times and formerly with The Wire, Kanojia was arrested around 1.30 pm, Arora said, adding, “There were five-six people. Only one of them was in uniform. The rest were in civil clothes. At first, they gave us no reason as to why he was being arrested, except to say that orders had come from above.”
She also said, “I reached the Vasant Vihar police station around 3 pm to ask for Kanojia but the police said he was not there. Last thing I was told is that the men along with Kanojia have crossed Noida and were en route Lucknow.”
A copy of the FIR, which Arora later received, is with ThePrint. It was filed in Lucknow Monday by one Dinesh Kumar Shukla who accused Kanojia of disrupting communal harmony via social media.
The FIR has been filed under sections 153 (A), 153 (B), 420, 465, 468, 469, 500, 505(1)(b), 505(2) and 66 of the Indian Penal Code. These sections deal with defamation and “attacks upon the religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc of any particular group or class or upon the founders and prophets of a religion”, among others.
Tweet on Hindu Army leader
The FIR alleges that Kanojia had tweeted a morphed Facebook post by Sushil Tiwari of the Hindu Army, with the intent of defaming the latter.
On 10 August, Tiwari had shared a Facebook post saying Islamic studies should be replaced by Vedic studies in the UPSC syllabus. The FIR says this post was subsequently edited to state that OBC/SC/ST will not be allowed in Ayodhya’s Ram Mandir. This edited photo was then tweeted by Kanojia on 16 August. The journalist had later deleted the tweet.
The FIR notes that Kanojia’s tweet was objectionable and could have resulted in disturbing communal harmony, create tension between different communities and hurt religious feelings, which can threaten law and order.
His wife Arora, however, said, “He had not tweeted this at all. Someone edited that image to make it look so. I am 100 per cent sure that he has not tweeted anything of the sort.”
ThePrint tried to reach Joint Commissioner of Police (JCP) (law & order), Lucknow, Naveen Arora and Commissioner of Police Sujeet Pandey via phone calls but did not receive a response until the time of publishing this report.
This isn’t the first time Kanojia has had run-ins with the law. Earlier this year, an FIR was filed against him for making “objectionable remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on social media”.
A local BJP leader Shashank Shekhar, who filed the complaint based on which the FIR was registered, said, “I also found some of his tweets containing hate comments which could divide communities, and also disturb law and order in the state.”
In June 2019, Kanojia was picked up from his residence for “a post he shared about a woman wanting to marry the chief minister”.