NUJ condemns journalist arrests in Uttar Pradesh
13 June 2019
The NUJ is deeply concerned to learn of the arrests of Prashant Kanji, Ishika Singh and Anuj Shukla. All three were arrested in relation to material they broadcast relating to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath. The NUJ joins with the Editors Guild of India to condemn the police action as high-handed, arbitrary and amounts to an authoritarian misuse of laws. It appears to be part of an effort to intimidate the press, and stifle freedom of expression.
On Saturday 8 June, freelance journalist Prashant Kanojia shared a video on Twitter of a woman claiming that she proposed marriage to chief minister Yogi Adityanath. Prashant was arrested for “defaming” the chief minister. Since then, the Uttar Pradesh police arrested three more journalists, Anuj Shukla and Ishita Singh of Nation Live, a Noida-based news channel and Peer Mohammad, a freelance journalist from Gorakhpur district for airing the footage of the woman speaking to newsmen and for posting it on social media.
On Tuesday 11 June, Prashant was released on bail following orders from the Supreme Court. In the ruling it stated that freedom of expression and other rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution “are sacrosanct and non- negotiable”.
In a statement Amar Devulapalli, president of the Indian Journalists Union demanded that the other three journalists should also be released immediately. He said:
“The order of the apex court granting bail to Prashant Kanojia is a slap on the face of Yogi Adityanath government, which arbitrarily arrested four journalists for reporting on the social media and in their news outlets. The IJU demands that the Uttar Pradesh government should immediately release all the four arrested journalists, Prashant Kanojia, Anuj Shukla, Ishita Singh and Peer Mohmmad.”
The International Federation of Journalists said:
“We demand the immediate release of Anuj Shukla, Ishita Singh and Peer Mohammad. While we welcome the release of Prashant Kanojia, we raise serious concerns about the state of freedom of express and the press in Uttar Pradesh. People in authorities and leaders cannot simply arrest journalists for sharing content they deem to be defamatory, it will only work to create a culture of self-censorship.”