At a time when there’s in countrywide distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated lockdown, the Uttar Pradesh government’s move to muzzle media voices has angered the media fraternity.
A statement endorsed by 165 journalists across the country has condemned the “politically motivated harassment of media persons,” citing the recent FIRs filed against news portal, The Wire’s, co-founding editor Siddharth Varadarajan, for an article published in the portal. The copies of the FIRs were promptly circulated on Twitter by the media adviser to chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
The said article refers to a matter of “public record” and whatever it error had, was rectified and published prominently, yet the UP Police filed FIRS and landed up in the Delhi residence of Varadarajan, asking him to appear in the Ayodhya court, despite no availability of transport during the lockdown.
“The manner in which the U.P government and its police have been pursuing this with a single-minded agenda smacks of vindictiveness. The state has an extra responsibility to exercise restraint on use of its powers when citizens are restricted in exercising many of their usual democratic rights. Freedom of the press is doubly important in such a context as people cannot make news themselves, but independent media is the most important medium of expressing their concerns,” read the statement.