Brazen Attempt to Muzzle the Media
FIR against Varadarajan
We, the undersigned members of the journalist fraternity strongly condemn the FIRs filed against Siddharth Varadarajan, Founding Editor of the Wire by the Uttar Pradesh government.
This constitutes nothing but a brazen attempt to muzzle the media. The Wire was accused of causing panic when it reported that UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath attended a religious event on March 25 at Ayodhya on the occasion of Ram Navmi, when a national lockdown was in force.
The Wire has held that the CM's presence was a matter of public record and knowledge. A sentence in an article in the Wire had wrongly attributed a statement made by Acharya Paramhans to the chief minister, which was not only retracted but a corrigendum issued as well.
Rather than let the matter end there, a FIR was filed in Faizabad district. On April 10, a team of the UP police descended at Siddharth Varadarajan's residence to serve him a notice for appearing on April 14, irrespective of the fact that a nationwide lockdown was in force. The manner in which the U.P government and its police have been pursuing this with a single- minded agenda smacks of vindictiveness. The state has an extra responsibility to exercise restraint on use of its powers when citizens are restricted in exercising many of their usual democratic rights. Freedom of the press is doubly important in such a context as people cannot make news themselves, but independent media is the most important medium of expressing their concerns. We demand that such politically motivated harassment of media persons should stop immediately.