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Five Arrests in Three Days Over Social Media Posts 'Defaming' Adityanath

The latest arrests were made in Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath's stronghold of Gorakhpur.

New Delhi: Two more people have been arrested and another booked in connection with sharing allegedly objectionable content on Adityanath, taking the total number of arrests in the last three days for posts on social media ‘defaming’ the Uttar Pradesh chief minister to five.

The latest arrests were made in Adityanath’s stronghold of Gorakhpur. Times of India reported that one of the men arrested, scrap dealer Peer Mohammad, had allegedly shared a viral post showing the mock up of a wedding card of the chief minister shared first by one Dharamveer Bharati.

Upon receiving a complaint from a Twitter user, the Gola police station in the district registered cases against both Mohammad and Bharati under sections 503 (criminal intimidation) and 505 (statement conducing public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code and 65/66 of the Information Technology (IT) Act. NDTV has reported that the complaint against the post was received by Gola police on Twitter itself.

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Both are original residents of Gorakhpur. However, Bharati works at Muscat in Oman and has thus only been booked for the alleged offence.

The TOI report identified a third man, nursing home manager Ram Prasad, who was also held for sharing yet another post on Adityanath which was deemed objectionable.

The development comes two days after journalist Prashant Kanojia was arrested for tweeting a video of a woman claiming on television channels that she had been speaking with Adityanath for a long time with the intention of marrying him. Along with Kanojia, who used to be a staff reporter at the The Wire Hindi, two heads of private news channel Nation Live, Anuj Shukla and Ishika Singh, were also arrested for broadcasting the claims of the woman.

All three remained in police custody at the time of publishing the report, even though the FIR against Kanojia has been filed under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code and 66 of the IT Act, both of which are bailable offences.

Kanojia’s wife Jagisha Arora filed a writ petition which the Supreme Court heard on Tuesday before ordering his immediate release on bail.

The arrests saw widespread outrage, aired mostly on social media where the hashtag #ReleasePrashantNow began trending. Among those who condemned the arrests were journalists groups like the Editors´ Guild of India, the Network of Women in Media, the Indian Women’s Press Corps, the Press Club of India, the South Asian Women in the Media and the Press Association.

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