Since Wednesday morning, the news of Republic TV’s Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami by Mumbai Police has been all over social media. Hashtags on how Maharashtra government has abused its power and clamped down on freedom of expression, the country no more has the Freedom of Speech, misuse of power etc. have filled the online space.
While several Bharatiya Janata Party leaders have expressed their outrage over the arrest of Arnab Goswami, many journalists across India have been targeted and arrested just in the last few months and never received the same level of attention. Here are five Indian Journalists who have FIRs against them or have been arrested by the police.
Kappan, a reporter with the Malayalam news portal azhimukham.com, was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police on October 5 while on his way to Hathras to cover the Dalit teenager gang-rape and murder. Kappan was arrested along with Atiqur Rahman, and Masud Khan. As per reports, they were arrested at Mathura toll plaza and booked under conspiracy charges and rioting. The FIR against them alleged that the four of them had conspired with international funding for the protests against Hathras gang rape and institutional murder of 19-year-old Dalit girl. He was charged with Section 15 and 17 of UAPA, sedition and IT Act.
2. Kishore Chandra Wangkhem
Manipuri journalist Kishore Chandra Wangkhem was arrested in October this year on charges of sedition for responding to a viral social media post, made by the wife of a BJP politician. It was the second time Wangkhem had been arrested. In 2018 too, he was arrested under the National Security Act and charged with sedition for social media posts criticizing the RSS, Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In 2019, the high court had annulled the charges against him, and the arrest of 39-year-old TV journalist under the stringent NSA drew worldwide criticism.
3. Prashant Kanojia
Independent journalist Kanojia, who used to be a reporter with The Wire Hindi, had been arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police twice in the last two years, both times the arrests were for tweets that the government had deemed ‘seditious’.
In 2019, Kanojia was arrested by the same Uttar Pradesh Police for posting a tweet and a Facebook post on Chief Minister Adityanath. The Supreme Court, later, had asked the government to release him. The FIR was registered at Hazratganj police station in Lucknow. In it, UP Police had alleged that the accused had made objectionable comments against the CM and tried to malign his image.
4. Tsewang Rigzin
Rigzin, the Leh correspondent of State Times, is the general secretary of the Ladakh Journalists Union, an affiliate of the Indian Journalists Union was arrested on September 5, for a comment he did not even make. BJP MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal from Ladakh filed a complaint against him after an unidentified member of a Facebook page called Ladakh in Media made a remark against the MP on a Facebook post moderated by Rigzin. The police arrested Rigzin on September 5, as he was the administrator of the group. However, the journalist was granted bail the same day.
5. Rajib Sarma
Assamese journalist and correspondent for DY365, Sarma was arrested on July 16, 2020 by the Dhubri police based on a complaint by a divisional forest officer (DFO) in the Dhubri forest division, accusing the reporter of ‘extortion’ and ‘outraging the modesty of a woman’. Sarma was investigating about Biswajit Roy, the DFO for his alleged links to cattle smuggling and other illegal activities. After facing criticism, the government ordered a CID probe into the case pertaining to the journalist’s arrest.
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