New Delhi: The Digipub News India Foundation has issued a statement strongly condemning the case filed by the Uttar Pradesh Police against three journalists – Saba Naqvi, Rana Ayyub, Mohammad Zubair – and The Wire for their tweets about the attack on an elderly Muslim man in Ghaziabad being communal in nature. The first information report (FIR) also names three political activists and Twitter, for tweets in connection with the assault.
The incident took place on June 5. The Uttar Pradesh Police have, however, ruled out the communal angle in the incident. The victim’s family has disputed the police’s claim in an interview to The Wire, where they said that Abdul Samad Saifi described the abuse he was subjected to in a written complaint on June 6. They also said that the FIR the police drafted ignored key details of what he said had happened.
In a statement, Digipub has urged the state of Uttar Pradesh to “withdraw the case immediately and to allow news publications to do their job without fear of reprisal”.
Digipub has also raised concerns over the targeting of certain individuals and news publications, perceived to be critical of the ruling party, by the UP Police in this case. “The implications of this case go beyond those who have been accused here: the Uttar Pradesh Police is holding out a threat to those who report the voices of victims of crimes. It is attempting to create an atmosphere in which all journalists and news organisations will be dissuaded from reporting anything but the official version,” the statement read.
(There are at least 13 other news organisations, including the Times of India, ABP, Republic, India Today and PTI, which reported Saifi’s allegations at the same time as those whom the UP Police has named in its FIR.)
The mala fide nature of the case undermines the right to free expression guaranteed by Constitution, the statement read.
Digipub is an association of more than 60 independent digital publications, comprising Alt News, Article 14, Boomlive, Cobrapost, HW News, Newsclick, Newslaundry, The News Minute, The Quint, Scroll.in and The Wire.