Rights

Another Journalist Arrested For 'Defamatory Content' Against Adityanath

Editor Anshul Kaushik of Nation Live was arrested Monday night on the same charges as the Noida-based TV channel head Ishika Singh and editor Anuj Shukla.

Noida, UP: Another journalist at a Noida-based TV channel has been arrested allegedly over defamatory content against UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, said officials.

Nation Live editor Anshul Kaushik was arrested Monday night and remanded in 14 days judicial custody on  Tuesday based on the same charges as the channel head Ishika Singh and editor Anuj Shukla.

During a debate on the channel on June 6, a woman had allegedly made defamatory statements against Adityanath.

“Editor Anshul Kaushik of Nation Live was arrested last night and produced in the district and sessions court in Surajpur, Gautam Buddh Nagar. The court has remanded him in a 14-day judicial custody,” a police officer privy to the probe told PTI requesting anonymity.

“One more editor of the channel is absconding and police are on the lookout for him as well,” the officer said.

This is the third arrest in the case in which the district administration and the police themselves had taken cognisance to lodge two FIRs and also reported the matter to the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting after it emerged during the probe that the Noida-based news channel did not have the requisite licence to operate.

Also read: SC Upholds Free Speech Rights, Orders Immediate Release of Prashant Kanojia

Ishika Singh and Anshul Shukla were arrested on June 8 and remanded in a 14-day judicial custody, two days after the channel allegedly aired the controversial content defaming Adityanath without verifying its authenticity, the officials said.

Additionally, two persons were arrested Monday in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur district for allegedly posting objectionable comments on social media against the chief minister. Anshul Kaushik is the sixth person arrested over sharing “defamatory” content against Adiyanath.

On Tuesday, observing that the right to liberty is “sacrosanct and non-negotiable”, the Supreme Court had ordered that journalist Prashant Kanojia, arrested for allegedly sharing objectionable posts on Yogi Adityanath, be immediately released on bail.

Anshul Kaushik was arrested under Sections 153 (promoting enmity between different groups), 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory), 505 [1] (whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report) and 505 [2] (statements conducing to public mischief), the officials said.

An additional complaint about the illegal operation of the channel was made by the additional district director at the Phase 3 police station following which an FIR under Sections 420 (fraud), 467 (forgery of documents) and related offences was registered, police said.

Police had on Sunday sealed the premises of the channel in Block B of Sector 65 amid protests by social activists and the Editors Guild of India, which described the episode an attempt to “intimidate” the press and “stifle the freedom of expression”.

Responding to the criticism over the arrest of the journalists, District Magistrate Brajesh Narain Singh had told reporters on Monday that there were no directions from the state government for action and the administration had taken a note of it on its own.

Also read: Journalists’ Bodies Condemn Arrest of Three Journalists for ‘Defaming’ Adityanath

“There is a report in a section of media that it is a case of defamation, but it is not only about defamation. It is about nuisance which has a more significant impact on the public order, peace and tranquillity, the DM said.

I request the media for a deeper and not superficial analysis of the episode and see that if the district administration is trying to prevent such incidents, it is based on merit and is correct,” Singh said.

“It was a fake and unauthorised channel, so there is sufficient ground for action,” the DM said.

SSP Vaibhav Krishna during the same press conference had said, “The incident could have created a law and order situation, a riot-like situation, hence, filing FIRs and arresting the duo were needed and during the probe, it also emerged that they did not have the requisite licence for operating a TV news channel.”

“We are not trying to regulate anything. Let it be very clear,” the district police chief had said.