Journalist Arrested for Questioning Uttar Pradesh Minister on Unfulfilled Promises

Sanjay Rana asked Gulab Devi multiple questions on promises she had made before the elections. After 30 hours in jail, he got bail from a sub-divisional magistrate on March 14.

New Delhi: Sanjay Rana, a journalist in Uttar Pradesh’s Sambhal, who was arrested after questioning state minister for secondary education Gulab Devi at a function on March 12 got bail after spending 30 hours in police custody. An FIR was filed against him on the complaint of a leader from the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Shubham Raghav.

Article 14 has reported that the lawyer who appeared for him to secure his bail was his editor, Dharmendra Singh.

In a video of the March 11 event, Rana can be heard saying in Hindi in front of Devi, “[Before the elections,] you had promised all of us, taken an oath in the temple, that this village [Budh Nagar Khandwa, where the event was taking place] is yours, that everyone here is your adopted child. You had told the village elders, ‘Tell me what work you need done, I will do it.’ You also said that if you win the elections, you would return to this village. But despite that, you never came back.”

“In Buddh Nagar, there is no baarat ghar. Neither has any government toilet been build. You had said you would pave the road from the temple to here [pointing outside the event space]. Even now, the road is so kachha, even a bike can’t comfortably go on it. You had also specifically said that you will build a boundary wall around the village temple. No work has begun on that. Villagers tried to build pressure on these issues, but you never listened to them. What have you got to say about this?” he continues.

Before Devi responds, a woman off camera can be heard saying that Rana is not asking questions but only making a point. Devi intervenes then, saying, “Why don’t you ask me by when I will get all this work done?”

Rana responds to the off-camera woman, asking how they would know of the issues people were facing if they did not listen. The woman puts the question to the crowd: “Who all agree with him?” Several people from the crowd appear to agree with him, that promises have not been fulfilled.

Then Devi speaks. “I have been watching you, I recognised what you’re doing. What you have said is correct. But the time [probably referring to her time as MLA] is not done yet.”

This video went viral on social media.

According to The Quint, an FIR was filed against Rana under Indian Penal Code Sections 323 (Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation).

After being arrested, Rana stood by his questions. He added that he asked for permission before approaching the minister. “I have not done anything wrong,” he said. “If someone is making false statements about the work they have done, shouldn’t you question it?”

The Samajwadi Party has hit out at the ruling BJP on Rana’s arrest. “If this isn’t an undeclared emergency by the BJP government, what is?” the party tweeted in Hindi. “The BJP only wants journalists who suck up to it. Is asking questions illegal now?”

Note: This article has been updated since publication with the news of the journalist’s bail.