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 March 25 to April 2 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 incharge 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 he had made “disreputable” comment against the chief minister.
Reacting to the FIR, Varadarajan said: “A bare perusal of the FIR shows that it is politically motivated and the offences 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 learnt 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.”
Varadarajan said it was a matter of record that Adityanath had attended a religious event in Ayodhya on March 25 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown.
The apparent reference was to Adityanath’s participation at a ceremony to shift the Ram Lalla’s idol to a temporary location so that the construction of the Ram temple can begin.
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, will also have to ask for donation to fight the case,” Kumar said.
Later the the media adviser said, “despite our warnings”, Varadarajan did not remove the tweet nor apologise.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.