NEW DELHI, 21 Mar: The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) has condemned the arrest of a reporter for a YouTube channel, Sanjay Rana, in Uttar Pradesh’ Sambhal district, after he posed several questions to a minister over her unfulfilled promises of development work during a function in the village on 11 March.
Rana was granted bail after spending 30-odd hours in police custody.
The video, which went viral, has been seen by the IJU, wherein Rana was merely reminding the MoS (Independent) for Secondary Education, Gulab Devi, about the tall promises she had made, such as the village having a concrete road, building a barat ghar (marriage hall), a toilet, and a boundary wall around the village temple.
None were fulfilled.
“The minister, clearly embarrassed, replied that she had been watching his ‘eyes’ throughout and that she still had time to complete the work. However, a day later, Sambhal police arrested him after a BJYM leader filed a complaint, claiming that he was assaulted by Rana and threatened,” the IJU informed in a release, adding that an FIR under IPC Sections 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) was filed against Rana.
In a statement, IJU Secretary-General Sabina Inderjit said that “the incident smacks of vendetta and overreach of power.
“It’s undoubtedly a case of harassment and intimidation of Rana, to stop him from doing his job of reporting and seeking accountability,” she said.
The IJU has demanded that the Uttar Pradesh government, notorious for filing FIRs against journalists, must desist from misusing laws.
“It must remember that the government and its ministers are answerable to the public,” the union said.