Gorakhpur Police on Sunday, June 9, detained a person for allegedly "defaming" Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on social networking site. With this arrest, the Uttar Pradesh Police have now taken four people into custody in the last two days.
Taking to Twitter, Gorakhpur police said, "On the direction of Senior Superintendent of Police, we have received a complaint against an accused on the social media, following which he was arrested." UP Police also clarified that the alleged accused was trying to "tarnish the image" of Yogi Adityanath by posting "objectionable tweets".
Earlier, a freelance journalist Prashant Kanojia, the head and an editor of a TV channel were arrested on Saturday (June 8) over contents that were considered "objectionable" against the UP chief minister.
Why was Kanojia booked?
Delhi-based journalist Prashant Kanojia, who is currently lodged in Lucknow Jail, was arrested by Uttar Pradesh police for sharing a video on Twitter and Facebook, in which a woman claimed that she had sent a marriage proposal to Yogi Adityanath. The woman was seen speaking to reporters of several media organisations outside the Uttar Pradesh chief minister's office.
Kanojia was picked up from his home in Delhi's West Vinod Nagar after a complaint by a police officer in Lucknow. The police claimed that Kanojia's tweet had "objectionable comments" on Yogi Adityanath and that he tried to "malign" the Chief Minister's image. This was Kanojia's alleged crime.
A few hours later, the UP police arrested two others, including the head Ishika Singh and editor of Nation Live Anuj Shukla, for airing the woman's views. They were arrested from Noida.
Editors Guild condemns arrests
The Editor's Guild of India condemned the arrests of three journalists and issued a statement calling it "an effort to intimidate the press and stifle freedom of expression". Referring to the arrest as brazen misuse of law, the Guild said: "Whatever the accuracy of the woman's claims, to register a case of criminal defamation against the journalists for sharing it on the social media and airing it on a television channel is a brazen misuse of the law. To give the police powers to arrest, provisions of Section 66 of the IT Act have also been added." The Guild reiterated their demand saying that the defamation law should be decriminalised.
There has been a massive outrage on social media following the arrests of the journalists. Hashtags - #FreePrashantNow, #ReleasePrashantKanojia - are trending on Twitter since Saturday evening.
Siddharth Varadarajan, Founding Editor of The Wire tweeted -
Twitter slams arrest of Delhi journo. Here are a few tweets: