The Press Council of India has taken suo motu cognisance of a local journalist's arrest in Uttar Pradesh’s Sambhal district after he questioned state minister for secondary education Gulab Devi at a public event on March 11. Devi had visited Budh Nagar Khandwa to inaugurate a dam. The journalist is out on bail, as per media reports.
The notice issued on March 16 says that matter, "...curtailment of the press freedom and the statute mandates the Press Council of India to preserve the freedom of the press, the Honourable chairperson, PCI has viewed the aforesaid action with concern and has taken suo motu cognisance of the matter under Regulation 13 of the Press Council (Procedure for Inquiry) Regulations, 1979.”
The PCI takes Suo Motu cognizance on the Incident of arresting Journalist, Mr. Sanjay Rana, Sambhal, Uttar Pradesh and calls for a report from the Government of UP.— Press Council of India (@PressCouncil_IN) March 16, 2023
Press Council of India takes suo moto cognisance of the arrest of UP journalist for addressing questions to the minister. https://t.co/Qcp25Gg7gV pic.twitter.com/qaEFXmFwP5— Mumbai Press Club (@mumbaipressclub) March 16, 2023
The PCI has also directed the UP chief secretary; the secretary, Home (police) department; the district collector (Sambhal), the Director General of Police, UP; and the concerned superintendent of police to respond within two weeks, after which the Council will determine further course of action.
The local reporter Sanjay Rana was seeking responses from Devi on several promises of development she had made ahead of the state assembly elections. An FIR was filed against him by Shubham Raghav, a leader from the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, after the incident. Rana is associated with a YouTube channel called Moradabad Ujala.
Speaking in Hindi, Rana is seen asking in the video: “You had said that you are adopting Budh Nagar Khandwa which comes under your constituency, Chandausi and that this village belongs to you. You had taken the oath in a temple. Addressing the elders of the village, you had asked them to let you know whatever work has to be done and you would get them done. Lastly, you had also said that if you win the election, you will return here (Budh Nagar) once again but you never came.”
According to the FIR, reported by Quint, Rana was charged with Sections 323 (Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation) under the Indian Penal code. The FIR also accused Rana of abusing people there and threatening them.
In a strong response, the Samajwadi Party media cell took to Twitter and stated in Hindi, “Ground reporter Sanjay Rana in Sambhal asked Gulab Devi, a minister in the BJP government, questions on the issue of development, then the minister put the journalist in jail. If this is not an undeclared emergency and dictatorship in the BJP government, then what else is it? BJP only wants sycophancy journalism, it is forbidden to ask questions?”
संभल में ग्राउंड रिपोर्टर संजय राणा ने BJP सरकार में मंत्री गुलाब देवी से विकास के मुद्दे पर सवाल पूछे तो मंत्री महोदया ने पत्रकार को जेल में डलवा दिया— SamajwadiPartyMediaCell (@MediaCellSP) March 13, 2023
ये BJP सरकार में अघोषित इमरजेंसी और तानाशाही नहीं तो और क्या है ?
BJP सिर्फ चाटुकार पत्रकारिता चाहती है ,सवाल पूछना मना है ?👇 pic.twitter.com/Ye3lsvtznO