By Syed Ali Mujtaba
A lady and a Yogi love story and in the wedding procession, whether the temple bells will ring or the DJ Sound be heard has become so contentious, that it has led to as many as Five arrests, all related to the defamation of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
An action packed drama was witnessed at the 5 Kalidas Marg, Lucknow-residence of the UP Chief Minister, where a divorced woman Hema Srivastava, appeared from somewhere claiming to be the girlfriend of UP Chief Minister. The lady said on camera that for the past one year, CM Yogi Adityanath was staying with her online from morning to night and engaged her on video call and now she wants to make this public and want him to marry and stay with her life-long.
The lady was carrying a stamp paper of Rupees 100 on which she had written her love letter and the marriage proposal. The security personals rounded off the woman but the lady has done enough to attract sharp reaction UP CM Yogi Adityanath.
The storm that followed, led to as many as five arrests, with police claiming they were arrested for defaming the Chief Minister, while many rebuke at UP CM for his authoritative style of functioning.
The matter has come to the notice of Supreme Court and it had to intervene and granted bail to Journalist Prashant Kanojia, who was languishing in jail for 11 days on charges of posting objectionable content about UP Chief Minister.
Mr. Kanojia had shared the video on Twitter and Facebook where the woman Hema Srivastava was seen speaking to reporters of various media organizations outside CM’s residence, claiming that Yogi Adityanath had all alleged relationship with her and she want him to marry her.
The Uttar Pradesh police in plain clothes picked up Mr. Kanojia, from his home in Delhi. He was arrested after a complaint by a police officer in Lucknow, alleging he tried to “malign” Yogi Adityanath’s image by “objectionable tweet” on Social Media about UP CM.
The Supreme Court after ordering immediate release of Mr Kanojia, said; “We may disapprove these tweets but we disapprove the denial of liberty.” The court asked the government if they ever heard of such arrests based on tweets.
In same connection, two more arrests were made one of Ms Ishika Singh, head TV Channel, ‘Nation Live’ and its Editor Mr Anuj Shukla for running a debate on the channel on Hema Srivastav’s video. Both were arrested for allegedly broadcasting defamatory content against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and was remanded to a 14-day judicial custody
In the related crackdown on objectionable tweet about the UP Chief Minister, two more persons were arrested in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. Peer Mohammad, a scrap dealer, had shared an “objectionable post” on social media about UP CM. The post originally came to him from one Dharmendra Bharti, who currently works in Muscat, Oman.
‘Ab DJ bajega Ya Ghanta,’ was the post from Dharmendra Bharti but the police could not arrest him as he lives outside the country but in turn arrested Peer Mohammad and sent him to jail.
Another person, Ram Prasad, who is a manager of a nursing home in Shahpur area of Gorakhpur, was also arrested and sent to jail for allegedly posting “objectionable content” on social media.
All these arbitrary arrests in Uttar Pradesh have sparked a huge debate in the country. A big debate is raging on the social media about the attack on freedom of expression and the authoritative rule in Uttar Pradesh.
The Editors Guild of India termed the journalists’ arrests “high-handed and arbitrary” amounting to “authoritarian misuse of laws”. Taking note of the government’s actions, the Editors Guild, in a statement, said, “The police action is high-handed, arbitrary and amounts to an authoritarian misuse of laws. The Guild sees it as an effort to intimidate the press, and stifle freedom of expression.”
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 law and condemnable misuse of state power, the editor’s guild said.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi to has jumped into the fray and condemned the arrest of the journalists for allegedly “defaming” Yogi Adityanath, saying the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister was “behaving foolishly.”
Rahul Gandhi in a tweet said; “If every journalist who files a false report or peddles fake, vicious RSS/BJP sponsored propaganda about me is put in jail, most newspapers/ news channels would face a severe staff shortage. The UP CM is behaving foolishly & needs to release the arrested journalists”
The tagline is: “Andher Nagari Chopat Raja” “crazy king ruling over a dark kingdom”…..
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org