Over 700 journalists, activists and others have signed a statement condemning the arrest of journalist Prashant Kanojia.
Kanojia was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police on August 18 for allegedly distorting a Facebook message posted by a member of the Hindu Army. The statement called this a "pretext", given that the Allahabad High Court accepted the state government's request for four weeks to respond to Kanojia's bail plea.
"It is clear that the arrest and detention of Kanojia is politically motivated and driven by vendetta," the statement said. "It fits a larger pattern of Uttar Pradesh administration attempting to silence dissenting voices. In recent times it has repeatedly gone after activists and journalists alike using questionable legal pretexts."
The statement was signed by Meena Kandasamy, Teesta Setalvad, Kavita Krishnan, Jignesh Mevani, and Kanojia's wife Jagisha Arora, among others.
As an "outspoken Bahujan with a mass following", it said, "who consistently raises issues of caste-based exclusion and violence, his [Kanojia's] arrest has to be seen as an attack on the anti-caste activists." It also condemned the "intimidation and harassment tactics of the Uttar Pradesh government".
The coronavirus pandemic and the economic slowdown have pushed India’s news industry in a crisis. Journalists, more than ever, need your support. You can support independent media by paying to keep news free. Because when the public pays, the public is served and when the advertiser pays, the advertiser is served. Subscribe to Newslaundry today.