UP Police Register FIR Against Journalist Prashant Kanojia for Tweets on Modi, Yogi

This is the second time that the state's police have registered an FIR against the former The Wire Hindi staff reporter.

New Delhi: The Lucknow city police on Tuesday lodged an FIR against journalist Prashant Kanojia for making alleged “objectionable remarks” about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Yogi Adityanath on social media. Kanojia is a former staff reporter at The Wire Hindi.

According to the Indian Express, the case was lodged at the Ashiana police station in the city after a complaint was filed by Shashank Shekhar Singh, a local BJP leader. “I also found some of his tweets containing hate comments which could divide communities, and also disturb law and order of the state,” Singh claimed. Some of the tweets cited by the BJP leader in the complaint are from February.

This is the second time that the UP police have filed charges against the journalist. In June 2019, he was arrested by the Lucknow police for social media posts on Yogi Adityanath. He was released on bail on the directions of the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the police stated that they are yet to collect evidence against Kanojia, who lives in Delhi. “Prashant is accused of making objectionable comments about the prime minister and chief minister,” station house officer Sanjay Rai told the Indian Express.

According to reports, the FIR has been registered under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including defamation, printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory and offences committed with the intention to cause fear or alarm among the public. Sections of the Information Technology Act have also been included in the FIR.

In June 2019, the Supreme Court observed that Kanojia’s arrest and remand were “illegal and went against personal liberty”. The court also turned down the state’s submission that the petitioner, Kanojia’s wife Jagisha Arora, should first approach the lower court or high court for bail.

Jagisha Arora had filed a habeas corpus petition seeking his release. Their petition said there had been procedural lapses such as not presenting Kanojia before a magistrate and the arrest memo not being prepared.

The Uttar Pradesh police in Faizabad recently registered an FIR against The Wire on the complaint of an individual for a statement made by one of the founding editors on Twitter. The tweet focussed on the fact that Adityanath had attended a public religious event after the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown was imposed.

The Wire issued a statement in response, saying “the offences invoked are not even remotely made out and that it is aimed at stifling legitimate expression and factual information.”