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What Happened the Day Prashant Kanojia Was Arrested by UP Cops?

Kanojia recounts the experience of being treated like a criminal for a few social media posts.

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Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam

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Delhi-based journalist Prashant Kanojia was arrested by UP police on 8 June for allegedly posting defamatory tweets about Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. But the Supreme Court later ordered that Kanojia be released on bail immediately.

What actually happened on the day of Kanojia’s arrest? The Quint spoke to him as he recounted the experience of being treated like a criminal for a supposed crime of posting a few tweets, and railed against governments that misuse state power.

Kanojia said that if he had used abusive language against someone then it makes sense to take action against him. But how can someone be sent to jail for a few sarcastic posts? By this logic, a lot of writers and comedians will be incarcerated. This is a direct assault on the freedom of expression.

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What Is the Issue?

Kanojia had tweeted a video of a woman talking to a bunch of press reporters. In that video, the woman claimed that she has a romantic relationship with Yogi Adityanath. After Kanojia’s tweet, the video went viral on social media.

On 8 June, UP police arrested Prashant from his apartment in Delhi. Protests on large scale were organised against his arrest and the manner in which the arrest took place was called into question.

From lawyers to journalists to activists, everyone raised a barrage of questions on the manner in which the FIR was filed. The sections of IPC under which Kanojia was charged also raised questions.

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Prashant had originally been charged for defamation under Section 500 of IPC (defamation) and Section 66 of IT Act (sending offensive messages through computer). Later, Section 505 of IPC (intent to incite any caste/community to commit offence) and Section 67 of IT Act (publishing obscene material) were also slapped on him.

At present, Kanojia has been released on bail by Supreme Court. In the bail order, the apex court said that they may not agree with the views expressed by Kanojia in the tweet but he can not be sent to jail for holding those views.

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