Prashant Kanojia, a Delhi-based freelance journalist, was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police on Saturday, June 8, for posting alleged defamatory content on Yogi Adityanath on social media platforms.
A former journalist of The Wire and an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), Delhi, Kanojia, had on Facebook shared a video of a woman who claimed that she had sent Yogi Adityanath a marriage proposal. The video also showed her speaking to other news organisations about it.
In addition to Kanojia's arrest, the UP Police also arrested the head of a private news channel in Noida as well as its editor for broadcasting allegedly defamatory content on the UP chief minister.
Sharing the video, Kanojia had written, "Yogi ji video chatting kar sakate ho, to ishq ka izahaar kyon nahin? Yogi ji aap daro nahin, mat socho samaaj kya kahega bas bhaag jao ham sab aapakee shaadee karava denge. (Yogi ji, if you can video chat, why can't you also accept and confess your love? Don't be afraid, Yogi ji and don't bother what society will say. Just elope. We all support you, will help you get married.)
Kanojia was arrested from his residence in Delhi's West Vinod Nagar and was taken to Lucknow where he was formally arrested under Section 66 (criminal defamation and making statements conducing to public mischief) of the Information Technology Act. He was also charged under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code which refers to punishment for defamation.
Many people condemned the arrest of the journalist. Also, taking to Twitter, founding editor of The Wire, Siddharth Varadarajan said, "The fact that cops sent Prashant Kanojia to jail till Monday so he will have to move the courts to come out proves the idea is to intimidate and gag not just the media but the wider public."