The Editor’s Guild of India (EGI) and DIGIPUB News India Foundation issued statements on Monday, 1 February condemning the arrest of freelance journalist Mandeep Punia and demanded his immediate release.
“Punia was in the thick of covering the violence that took place at the Singhu border,” DIGIPUB’s statement noted.
It also appealed for a ‘withdrawal of all malicious cases against journalists’, naming several journalists, including Online News India journalist Dharmender Singh, Rajdeep Sardesai, Mrinal Pande, Zafar Agha, Vinod Jose, Ananth Nath and Paresh Nath, who have been recently detained under various charges, including sedition.
“We also condemn the FIR lodged against two news portals, The Kashmir Walla and Kashmiriyat, for reporting on the alleged pressure faced by a private school in Shopian, Jammu and Kashmir, to celebrate Republic Day,” the statement added.
The news foundation condemned the ‘continued targeting of journalists' reporting on the farmers’ agitation and noted that, “The use of sedition to suppress dissent and critical voices must be fiercely opposed by journalists across the country.”
The EGI also expressed that it was ‘deeply concerned’ by Punia’s incarceration.
“Punia’s arrest is an attempt to muzzle young courageous voices of independent journalists who are busting fake news and speaking truth to power, through their reportage,” the editor’s body wrote in their statement.
On Saturday, 30 January, the Delhi Police had detained Punia from the Singhu border, claiming that he ‘misbehaved’ with a station house officer (SHO) on duty, The Indian Express reported.
Punia, who is a freelancer with The Caravan, was on an assignment to cover the ongoing farmers’ protest at Singhu. He was forcibly picked up by a group of policemen, along with Dharmender Singh, another journalist.
(With inputs from The Indian Express)