Amid Criticism of FIR Against Journalists, UP Police File Another Case Against News Outlet

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Team Clarion

NEW DELHI – As the Uttar Pradesh Police faced Criticism for lodging an FIR against two journalists and three others over their social media posts, the police in Shamli district filed another case against a news outlet, Hindustan Media.

Earlier, the Bhavan police station had filed an FIR against Zakir Ali Tiyagi, Wasim Akram Tyagi, Asif Rana, Saif Allahabadi and Ahmed Raza Khan over social media posts alleging the mob lynching of a man, Firoz Qureshi who died after being beaten up by Pinky, Pankaj, Rajendra and others on 4 July.

Now on Sunday, the police lodged another FIR against the news outlet Hindustani Media Channel over the similar allegations. The channel was booked under the BNS sections 196 and 352(2).

Meanwhile, media bodies, opposition leaders, journalists and lawyers have condemned the police actions against the journalists calling it an assault on the Freedom of Expression.

In a statement on Monday, DIGIPUB, a coalition of digital media outlets and independent journalists, called on the UP police to immediately “rescind the FIR and cease turning the law against journalists who are doing their job”.

“Registering an FIR against journalists sharing information in public interest is a grave overreach and misuse of criminal laws and an assault on press freedom that has a chilling effect. While the police have contested the nature of the incident, saying it was not communal in nature, there is no cause for filing cases against journalists who are putting out information available to them,” reads the statement.

Cogito Media Foundation, a coalition of media groups from the minority community, has also condemned the FIR against the journalists.

“This action is a blatant attempt to suppress freedom of the press and intimidate journalists from reporting on sensitive issues,” said Cogito.

The group also demanded the withdrawal of the FIRs against these journalists. “We demand that the cases against the journalists be withdrawn immediately and that the authorities ensure a safe and conducive environment for media professionals to work without fear of intimidation or reprisal,” it said.

Rajya Sabha MP and RJD leader Manoj Kumar Jha also denounced the FIR saying that there is SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) of the police to shoot the messenger.

“So the ‘SOP’ remains the same…shoot the messenger and ignore the message. And it comes from a state which has a history of such violence. Jai Hind,” he said.

Prominent Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaising said “Clear violation of Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India, what is the point of swearing by the constitution and then misusing the new criminal laws?”.

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