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Tanishka Sodhi

Journalist files complaint against SP, cops arrest scribe who alleged News Nation ‘anti-Muslim diktat’

Lucknow Police arrested former News Nation journalist Anil Yadav over a complaint filed by another journalist against the Samajwadi Party media cell’s Twitter handle. Yadav was earlier in the news for his allegations that the channel had issued instructions to reporters to not be critical of the BJP and to bring in communal angles to reports.

Manish Pandey, the Lucknow-based resident editor of local channel News One India, had lodged a complaint on November 23 claiming that the SP media cell’s Twitter handle had been abusing him on social media. While police arrested Yadav in the early hours of November 25, alleging his role in the case, the party as well as the former News Nation journalist have denied the allegations.

“We found Anil Yadav’s involvement during the course of the investigation so action was taken based on the FIR. The investigation is still ongoing and under process,” Lucknow ACP (Hazratganj) Arvind Kumar Verma told Newslaundry. Asked if the IP address of the tweets were traced or if it was his mobile number that was found to have been connected to the Twitter account, Verma said he couldn’t reveal anything until the investigation was complete.

Yadav was released on November 30 after being granted bail. 

While Pandey’s complaint did not mention Yadav, the former News Nation journalist – who now runs a YouTube channel – alleged a “sarkaari” journalist had complained against the SP.

A day after Yadav’s arrest, the SP’s media cell alleged that the BJP government was harassing independent journalists. 

“There is no connection between Yadav and the party. He is a journalist and in no way has anything to do with us,” said Rajendra Chaudhary, chief spokesperson of SP. Asked what the police may have found to connect Yadav with SP’s Twitter account, Chaudhary said that the journalist perhaps commented on or retweeted a post from the SP’s account.

With no mention of Yadav, Pandey’s complaint had noted that the party’s media cell targeted him after he objected to their Twitter account ascribing political motives to the Gorakhnath mutt in Gorakhpur – headed by UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath. The party’s media cell had posted a Hindustan report alleging that BJP workers had helped illegal mining accused, and asked what the mutt’s share was in such activities.

Pandey said the commentary turned more foul when he posted a picture of Adityanath’s media advisor Mrityunjay Kumar and UP additional chief secretary Navneet Sehgal, saying their smiles caused a heartburn to many.

“They started attacking me and leaving dirty comments…I ignored it but it got worse. They called me dalaal and chaatu. I filed an FIR because such comments from SP’s official Twitter handle are not right. The police should investigate.”

A case was filed at the Hazratganj police station in Lucknow under sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings), 500 (defamation), 505 (2) (statements conducing to public mischief), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the Indian Penal Code, and under section 66 (sending offensive messages) of the IT Act.

Yadav, meanwhile, said that the police landed up at his house and took him away at night with force. Claiming that the officers told him that he was being too much of a kraantikari, or revolutionary, he alleged that he was beaten in custody. ACP Verma, however, denied the allegations. 

He was taken for a medical check-up at 4 am, Yadav said, and then to Lucknow jail. He said those five days in prison “were equal to five years”. “I’ll go to a non-BJP governed state. Everyone is scared nowadays and so am I,” said Yadav, who lives with his wife, three children, and mother. 

“They thought if they did this at night, it wouldn't get highlighted,” said the journalist. “There was a local police station but they took me to a further police station instead. They kept saying they have got orders from the top. They were not giving any details about why I was being taken, didn’t even tell my family why I was arrested. I was kept in the lock-up all night.”

Asked if he had anything to do with the Samajwadi Party, Yadav said, “If I was doing this, then I would be getting money. Why would I need to start a YouTube channel? Why can’t they check the IP address of the tweets?”

Pandey, meanwhile, said he came to know later that Yadav had been arrested in the case. “I had even spoken to Anil after he had left News Nation and guided him. I had filed a complaint against SP’s media cell. From what I know, many journalists work for the Samajwadi party. Many work for the BJP as well but BJP announces the same while SP does not officially announce.”

He said that the SP media cell had stopped commenting on his tweets after the FIR was filed, but trolls were still at it. “It’s wrong to say that he was arrested because he speaks against the government. Many journalists do, as do I.”

Newslaundry is a reader-supported, ad-free, independent news outlet based out of New Delhi. Support their journalism, here.

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