The Mumbai Press Club condemns the incidents of attacks on freedom of press by the police in Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.
Two days ago, the UP police arrested Prashant Kanojia and Noida-based TV channel’s Ishita Singh and Anuj Shukla on the charges of defaming UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
In another incident some days ago, the Karnataka Police had registered an FIR against Kannada newspaper Vishwavani, and its owner-Editor Vishweshwar Bhat, days after it published an article on fissures within former Prime Minister and JD(S) chief H D Deve Gowda’s family following the party’s disastrous Lok Sabha campaign.
This arbitrary acts of UP and Karanataka Police are highly condemnable.
Kanojia was picked by UP Police personnel in plain clothes from his East Delhi residence on June 8. The UP police in a suo-moto FIR have accused Kanojia of making “objectionable tweets” against the UP CM. Kanojia has been booked under IPC sections 500 (defamation), 505 and 67 of the IT Act.
As far as Karnataka is concerned, the news reports say that at least 15 journalists were booked or arrested on charges of blackmail, forgery, extortion, fake news among others over the last two months in several other cases in the past two months.
In the recent case in Karnataka, the FIR was registered on a complaint by a JD(S) leader, Pradeep Gowda, who accused Vishwavani and Bhat of publishing false and malicious news regarding Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil. Charges include defamation, criminal intimidation, intent to provoke breach of peace, breach of trust, cheating and forgery.
We demand immediate release of Prashant Kanojia and other journalists, and demand the withdrawal of charges against them and the journalists in Karnataka.
Secretary, Mumbai Press Club