A complaint was subsequently filed by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha leader Shubham Raghav. “Sanjay Rana is a fake journalist. He was unnecessarily doing drama at the minister’s function. He asked questions like a political leader. I tried to make him understand several times but he did not listen. He later misbehaved with me and even assaulted me and threatened to kill me…I am not aware of the police action over my complaint.”
An FIR was lodged against Rana under Indian Penal Code sections 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation). Chandosi police station SHO Satendra Pawar said the journalist allegedly got into a scuffle with Raghav after the event and threatened to kill him.
Sanjay Rana’s father Raghunath Singh said, “My son only asked certain questions at the event and an outsider subsequently got an FIR lodged against him. We don’t have anything against the minister, and the minister has nothing to do with the FIR.”
Gulabo Devi, meanwhile, denied that she had anything to do with the police action. “He was my worker and was talking about his village’s concerns. He must have got into some scuffle with villagers…I have been in politics for the last 40 years. I have carried out several works in the village through him. Some initiatives such as the school boundary wall etc. are pending…I have told him that I will finish whatever is pending,” she told Newslaundry.
However, Moradabad Ujala editor Dharmendra Chaudhary alleged that the complainant was the minister’s follower and the arrest came only on her directions. “The job of a journalist is to ask questions and if they are going to get arrested for it then it’s totally unacceptable…we managed to secure his release.”
Umesh Thakur, associate editor of Moradabad Ujala, said Rana had asked questions while covering the event and his remarks were met with thunderous applause by onlookers. “This whole incident didn’t go down well with the minister…the next day, an FIR was lodged by an office bearer of the Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha whom Sanjay had never seen in his life…just on the basis of a fake FIR, police arrested him…they secretly took him to Baniyakhed police station. They brought him to Chandausi police station the next day.”
Speaking to Newslaundry, Sanjay Rana said that police came to his house on Sunday. “I didn’t expect that I would be targeted for asking questions…instead of taking me to Chandausi they took me to Baniyakhed and kept me there in a room. They didn’t want my friends and family to know my location…I was harassed and threatened because I just asked some basic questions to a leader.”
Kashmiri Devi, a 40-year-old villager who claims to have seen Rana being taken away by the police, said, “Initially, two policemen came searching for him and then a vehicle full of cops arrived. They arrested him…they were dragging and beating him publicly on the road.”
Sambhal SP Chakresh Mishra did not respond to Newslaundry’s request for comment. This report will be updated if a response is received.