Gagging The Media In India
Syed Ali Ahmed | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI, JUNE 7—Veteran journalist Vinod Dua and Rajasthan-based Veerendra Rajpurohit are the latest victim of a bid to silence the voice of the media with police registering criminal cases against both of them.
While the FIR was registered against Dua on allegations of “misreporting the Northeast Delhi riots”, Rajpurohit was booked for defamation over remarks on cops.
In case of Dua, the FIR was registered on a complaint from a former Zee News journalist and now spokesperson od Delhi BJP Naveen Kumar, police itself is the complainant in Rajpurohit’s case.
In the FIR that has been registered at the Laxmi Nagar Police Station, Dua has been accused of “fake news marketing” through his show on YouTube channel HW News Network. Naveen alleged in the complaint that Dua made “fun of Prime Minister Narendra Modi by using the word ‘scaremonger’ for the PM which is derogatory”. The FIR was booked on June 4.
The FIR alleged that Dua has committed “offence of public nuisance, mischief, printing and engraving matters known to be defamatory intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace, statements conducive to public mischief etc and other cognizable offences”.
The fault of Rajpurohit was that he had raised the issue of a labour leader’s death during a clash between workers of a private mill and the management over the issue of wages. But the Pali district police in the FIR say that Rajpurhoit called Pali district SP Rahul Katakey “insensitive” and “arrogant” in a Whatsapp message he sent to Pali Town Police Station SHO on May 26.
But they are not the only journalists booked by the police because their writings or shows caused discomfort to either the existing political establishment or the police brass. A few weeks ago, co-founder of The Wire website Siddharth Varadrajan was booked by Ayodhya police in Uttar Pradesh for a very routine reporting. Two FIRs were registered against him for the same offence. He was served notice to appear before the court by the UP police for making comments allegedly intended to defame Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
According to media reports, more than 24 journalists were either arrested, booked, detained, investigated or assaulted since lockdown on March 24 to contain the spread of Covid-19. Reports say that a total of 198 attacks took place on journalists between 2014 and 2019, 36 only in 2019. “Getting Away With Murder”, a report documented by Thakur Foundation says that as many as 40 journalists were killed during the period. But there has not been any conviction reported in any case of attack on journalists.
Mahender Singh Manral
The Indian Express Special Correspondent Mahender Singh Manral was questioned by Delhi Police on May 11, 2020, in connection with a May 9 report “Tablighi FIR: Police probe indicates Saad audio clip was doctored”.
Delhi-based journalist Prashant Jagdish Kanojia was arrested by Lucknow Police for uploading alleged objectionable remarks on social media against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in March 2019. He was arrested on a complaint of BJP leader Shashank Shekhar in Ashiana Police Station in Lucknow.
An FIR was lodged against Ravindra Saxena a journalist of Today–24 news portal for reporting against a quarantine centre in district Sitapur.
Zubair Ahmed, working as a freelance journalist from Andaman and Nicobar Island was arrested by the police on charges of questioning the quarantine policies of the local police and administration.
Ashwani Saini, who produces video reports for Facebook page ‘Mandi Live’, and five other journalists were booked by the Himachal Pradesh police in April this year for reporting the problems faced by migrant labourers and businessmen owing to Covid-19.
In BJP ruled Gujarat, Dhaval Patel, editor of a news website, was arrested on charges of sedition for a report that BJP is contemplating a change in the leadership of the state though such reports are very common in print as well as electronic and digital media.
Editor of Kashmiriyat, Qazi Shibli was booked and arrested under the Public Safety Act (PSA) after he reported a leaked government document on additional troop build-up in Kashmir before revocation of Article 370. He was lodged in Bareilly jail for nine months and released on April 25 this year.
Renowned Kashmiri photographer Masrat Zahra was booked under UAPA on April 20 for social media posts that [police intertreted to be “anti-national”.
The Hindu correspondent based in Srinagar was booked in April this year on charges of “factually incoorect”report in which he reported on the burial of two slain militants in Jammu and Baramulla. Two FIRs were registered against hi, one in Srinagar and the other in Anantnag.
An FIR was lodged against renowned Kashmiri journalist and well-known author Gowhar Geelani on April 21. The FIR was booked under UAPA as also under Section 505 of IPC on “glorifying terrorism in Kashmir Valley” through his social media posts.
Editor of Rising Kashmir Shujaat Bukhari was killed by unidentified gunmen on July 2018 in a high-security area in Srinagar.
Working with the English daily Kashmir Observer, based in Srinagar, Mushtaq Ahmed was reported to have been beaten up a police inspector while on duty to report the lockdown in Bandipore on April 11. He was in police custody for two nights.
A TV journalist in Manipur, Kishorechand Wangkhem, who worked as an anchor for local news channel ISTV was arrested in November 2019 on charges of sedition for allegedly offensive Facebook post on Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh.
Gauri Shankar Lankesh
Editor of Lankesh Patrika, Gauri Shankar Lankesh was murdered on September 5, 2017. Journalists protested condemning government for her murder in many cities. According to the National Crime Record Bureau, 142 attacks against journalists for grievous hurt were registered nationwide between 2013 and 2015. As many as 73 people were arrested for 142 attacks.