UP Police books The Wire editor over 'disreputable' Twitter remarks on Yogi Adityanath; website's founding editors call charges 'politically motivated'
The FIR against The Wire editor Siddharth Varadarajan also mentioned his remark, questioning Adityanath's participation at a religious ceremony at the Ramjanmabhoomi site in Ayodhya during the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Ayodhya: The Uttar Pradesh Police on Wednesday booked a senior journalist over comments on Twitter claiming that the day Tablighi Jamaat held its event in Delhi, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had insisted that a Ram Navami fair will take place as usual.
The FIR against The Wire editor Siddharth Varadarajan also mentioned his remark, questioning Adityanath's participation at a religious ceremony at the Ramjanmabhoomi site in Ayodhya during the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus .
In his statement, Varadarajan called the FIR "politically motivated".
The FIR referred to a tweet by Varadarajan which said, "On the day the Tablighi Jamaat event was held, Adityanath insisted a large Ram Navami fair planned for Ayodhya from 25 March to 2 April would proceed as usual and that 'Lord Ram would protect devotees from the coronavirus ".
Later, the journalist tweeted, "I should clarify that it was Acharya Paramhans, Hindutva stalwart and head of the official Ayodhya temple trust, who said Ram would protect devotees from coronavirus , and not Adityanath, though he allowed a public event on 25/3 in defiance of the lockdown and took part himself."
Faizabad Kotwali police station in-charge Nitish Kumar Shrivastava registered an FIR under sections 188 (disobeying an order duly promulgated by public servant) and 505(2) (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code, saying he had made "disreputable" comment against the chief minister.
The founding editors of The Wire released the following statement on Twitter:
"We have to come to know through social media that an FIR has been registered under Section 188 and 505(2) of the IPC against The Wire by the UP Police in Faizabad."
"A bare perusal of the FIR shows that it is politically motivated and the offenses invoked are not even remotely made out. The registration of an FIR is a blatant attack on the freedom of the press."
"The government of Yogi Adityanath in Uttar Pradesh does not seem to have learned anything despite the strictures passed against it by the Supreme Court in June 2019 when the court ordered the release of the journalist Prashant Kanojia whom the state had illegally arrested. The right to liberty is a fundamental right and non-negotiable, the court had said."
"What the FIR says we have stated - that Chief Minister Adityanath attended a public religious event in Ayodhya on March 25 after the Prime Minister had announced a national lockdown to deal with the coronavirus challenge - is a matter of record."
The event was not open to the public but a small group of RSS and VHP functionaries was present, triggering Opposition's criticism that Adityanath had sent a wrong message by seemingly flouting lockdown guidelines.
Earlier, chief minister's media advisor Mritunjay Kumar had objected to Varadharajan's claim on Adityanath's alleged comment on Ram Navami celebrations.
"Do not try to spread lies. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had never said such a thing. Delete it immediately, otherwise, action will be taken and a case of defamation will also be imposed," Kumar tweeted.
"Along with the website, I will also have to ask for a donation to fight the case," Kumar said.
Later the media adviser said, "despite our warnings", Varadarajan did not remove the tweet nor apologise.
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