10 Jun 2019
Five people arrested for online comments on Adityanath. RIP democracy
Written byShalini Ojha
A woman claimed she sent a marriage proposal to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a journalist shared her video in jest and was arrested.
As skewed as this sounds, it has become a reality for journalist Prashant Kanojia. After Adityanath abused his power, Kanojia's wife moved the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case on Tuesday.
Let's look at what happened so far.
Series of events
Kanojia shared a video, landed in jail
Kanojia is an IIMC alumnus who has worked with established media house like Indian Express.
On June 6, he shared a video in which a woman claimed she was in love with Adityanath. Like most of us would react after seeing the clip, Kanojia also poked fun at it.
But his joke got him in trouble and he was imprisoned soon.
Kanojia was picked up by two policemen
Two days after he posted the video, Kanojia was picked up from his house in Delhi's West Vinod Nagar by two policemen, dressed in plain clothes.
His wife Jagisha Arora told NDTV everything happened within five minutes.
"He had gone downstairs. When he came back, he said he has to change his clothes as he has to go with the two men," Arora said.
Is questioning the government a crime, asked Arora
"We don't know the woman in the video either. It's sarcasm and that's not a crime... Will the police arrest everyone who questions the government? I stand by his right to post anything on social media," Arora told another media house.
Policemen took Kanojia to Lucknow for 'formal arrest'
After Kanojia was picked up, he was taken to Lucknow where he was "formally arrested".
An FIR was lodged against him at Lucknow's Hazratganj police station under IPC Sections 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) and 500 (defamation), and IT Act's Section 67 (publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form).
The complaint was filed by Sub-Inspector Vikas Kumar, revealed sub-Inspector Vijender Mishra.
Seemingly, police doesn't have a strong case against Kanojia
Now, the charges against Kanojia are arbitrary, to say the least.
Since IPC Section 500 is a non-cognizable offense, the police can't take direct notice by registering an FIR. Action for criminal defamation can be taken only if a private complaint is registered before magistrate.
Further, Section 505 deals with communal hatred and causing fear in public. How did the video promote hatred?
Since Saturday, UP police arrested five people
Ishika Singh, who heads Nation Live, and its editor Anuj Shukla were arrested in Noida.
Two other persons were arrested on Sunday in Gorakhpur, the citadel of Adityanath.
Naturally, Kanojia's arrest was condemned by Editor's Guild of India.
Meanwhile, the woman has been 'prohibited' from leaving home
While people are languishing in jails, the woman who "started" this row is also sort of imprisoned. The 32-year-old, who lives in Kanpur, is mentally ill, her mother told IE.
Her mother said the woman got married two years ago and returned home barely ten days after, which affected her mind.
Police personnel stay at her house to prevent her from "running to Lucknow".
I am not a fool, said the woman
However, the woman contradicted her mother's statements. "I am not a fool like everyone thinks. I did my B.Sc. in 2008. I wanted to meet the Chief Minister to seek help after I was abandoned by my in-laws," she said.
Meanwhile, Additional SP, Kanpur South, Raveena Tyagi, said the woman reiterated what she told the media.
The family claimed they consulted a psychiatrist in the past.
The video shouldn't become a national issue. Unfortunately, it has!
The high-handed arrests over a silly video raise important questions on Adityanath's intent. As someone who governs the most populous state of India, he must have more pressing issues to take care of.
But he diverted police forces towards journalists and now everyone is talking about it.
On the face of it, no one is guilty in this case except Adityanath's power abuse.