Lucknow: A journalist in Sambhal district of Uttar Pradesh was arrested after he asked a minister about development work in the area.
Sanjay Rana, who runs the Moradabad Ujala news channel on YouTube, was arrested after a leader of the ruling Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), Shubham Raghav, lodged an FIR alleging that he tried to disrupt the programme of state minister Gulab Devi. Raghav also accused the scribe of assaulting and threatening him during the programme.
Journalist released on bail
Sambal police lodged an FIR on the basis of Raghav's complaint and arrested Rana. However, the court released the journalist on bail.
The incident occurred during a public function at Sambhal where Devi was the chief guest. Rana asked various questions related to the construction of roads, a community hall, and other work that were not done despite a promise being made during the assembly polls last year. The minister is said to have got agitated on being asked these questions and also because this was being filmed and asked her supporters to stop the scribe or show him the door.
Incident on tape
A video that went viral about the incident shows the minister trying to convince the scribe about the construction work. However, people present at the venue, were echoing the sentiments expressed by the journalist that irked the minister.
Immediately after the programme ended, Raghav lodged a complaint at Chandausi police station, accusing the journalist of assault and of making threats and disturbing the public programme. Chandausi police lodged an FIR under Sections 323, 504 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 151 of CrPC.
Chandausi station house officer Satyendra Pawar said the journalist was arrested but released a day later. The matter is being investigated, he said.
Ashish Awasthi of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) condemned the arrest of the journalist and said that despite the ruling of the Supreme Court that no journalist could be arrested for criticizing the government unless he or she incites violence, Sambhal police dragged Sanjay Rana from his house and misbehaved with him. In the last five years, criminal cases have been lodged against hundreds of journalists in Uttar Pradesh at the behest of the government, he said.
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