The Uttar Pradesh government’s vindictive action against The Wire editor Siddharth Varadarajan has drawn widespread condemnation from journalists and other members of civil society across India. The Uttar Pradesh police filed an FIR against the editor for an article regarding the attendance of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at a Ram Navami celebration in Ayodhya on March 25 despite a national lockdown.

Screen Shot 2020-04-11 at 10.22.55 pm
Screenshot of Wire article

The Delhi Union of Journalists, in a statement, said that during the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, journalists are putting their lives at risk to “report developments vital to control of this national health emergency. Instead, the FIR was ‘harassment of a senior journalist and an attack on media freedom at a critical time’.

The New Your-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called upon the Uttar Pradesh police to immediately drop the criminal investigation into Vardarajan.

In another statement released today, more than 120 journalists demanded an end to such politically motivated harassment of mediapersons:

More than 100 journalists condemn attempts to muzzle the media
Statement dated April 11, 2020

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.

Supported and endorsed by:

1. Shobhna Jain,Sr. Journalist

2. T.K Rajalakshmi, Frontline

3. Sonal Kellogg, Independent Journalist

4. Aruna Singh, Independent Journalist

5. Ravinder Bawa, Independent Journalist

6. Neelam Jeena,Sr, Correspondent, Sandhya Jyoti Darpan Daily

7. Parul Sharma, Independent Journalist.

8. Venkitesh Ramakrishnan, Sr Associate Editor, Frontline

9. Anuradha Bhasin, Editor, Kashmir Times

10. Sajjad Haider, Editor, Kashmir Observer

11. Saif Khalid, Deputy Editor, Al Jazeera

12. Priti Prakash, Editor, facenfacts

13. Parul Jain, Freelancer

14, Anjali Deshpande, Independent Journalist.

15. Sujata Madhok, Independent Journalist.

16. Seema Mustafa, Editor, The Citizen

17. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Senior Journalist

18. Saroj Dhuliya, Navbharat times.

19. Aditi Nigam, Newsclick

20. Anju Grover, Independent Journalist.

21. Kiran Shaheen, Independent Journalist.

22. Karuna John, Independent Journalist.

23. Vidya Subramaniam, Independent Journalist

24. Sumita Mehta, Sr. Journalist

25. Rashmi Sehgal, Sr. Journalist

26. Ashlin Mathew, journalist

27. Hema Ramakrishnan, Senior journalist

28. Anjali Ojha, Journalist

29. Subodh Verma, Newsclick

30. A.M. Jigeesh, Business Line

31. Ajoy Ashirwaad, The Wire

32. Iftikhar Geelani, Senior Journalist

33. Majid Maqbool, Contributor, Foreign Policy, The Globe Post

34. Teesta Setalvad, Senior Journalist

35. Majid Hyderi, Independent journalist and TV commentator

36. P L Vincent, senior journalist

37. Rosalyn D’Mello, Freelancer

38. Praveen Khariwal, President, Press club of MP

39. Gautam Lahiri, Senior Journalist

40. Qazi, Journalist

41. A.J. Phillip, Senior Journalist

42. Jose Kalathil, Senior Journalist

43. Ramesh Menon, Contributing Editor, India Legal

44. Albert Thyrniang, Contributor, Shillong Times

45. Avtar Negi, Senior Journalist

46. Dr John Dayal, former treasurer, Editors’ Guild of India, Author

47. Neha Dixit, Independent journalist

48. Sonia Khurana, Visual artist

49. Shuddhabrata Sengupta, artist and writer

50. Akshaya Mukul, Journalist and writer

51. Revati Laul, Independent Journalist

52. Manoj Mitta, Journalist and author

53. Divya Trivedi, Frontline

54. Arti Jaiman, Community broadcaster

55. Nirmal John, journalist and author

56. Anando Bhakto, Frontline

57. Shweta Rashmi, Independent Journalist

58. Neerja Chowdhury, Senior Journalist

59. Anita Saluja, Senior Journalist

60. Aniruddha Bahal, Senior Journalist

61. Jeejo Augustine, Senior Journalist, Borneo Bulletin

62. Ravivarma , Navamalayali current affairs online ( political editor )

63. Shankar Raghuraman, Senior journalist

64. P K Datta, Senior journalist

65. Debashis Chatterji, Senior journalist

66. G.Shankar, President, Kerala Patrapravarthaka Association

67. Shastri Ramachandaran,Senior journalist,(Editorial Consultant, WION)

68. Purnima Tripathi, Frontline

69. Pankaj Molekhi, senior journalist

70. Akshay Deshmane, Huffington Post.

71. Ammu Joseph, Journalist and author

72. Gokul Krishnamoorthy. Independent Columnist (ET Brand Equity, Financial Express).

73. Anand Kochukudy, Editor, The Kochi Post

74. T V Jayan, Senior Deputy Editor, Hindu Business Line

75. Shajahan Madampat, Columnist, Outlook

76. Ajaz Ashraf, Freelancer.

77. Gayatri J, Consultant, Sabha TV, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

78. VM Deepa, Senior Consultant, Sabha TV, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

79. V. Venkatesan, Frontline

80. Sundeep Dougal, Independent Journalist

81. Raksha Kumar, Independent journalist

82. Sushma Varma, Senior Journalist

83. Laxmi Murthy, Independent Journalist

84. VK Raveendran, Editor, Gaddhika Daily, Payyannuur, Kerala

85. Rajaram S, Senior Executive Editor, Carees360

86. Preetha Nair, Outlook magazine

87. Sukumar Muralidharan, Freelance Journalist

88. P. V. Thomas, Freelance Journalist

89. Swati Goswami, Independent Writer, Ahmedabad

90. Priya Raveendran, Senior Consultant, Sabha TV, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

91. Nirmesh Singh, AgriNation

92. Saimi Sattar, The Pioneer

93. Bishakha De Sarkar, The Hindu Business Line

94. Smitha Verma, freelance journalist

95. Japleen Pasricha,

96. Preeti Mehra, journalist, New Delhi

97. Sudhanva Deshpande, publisher

98. Anita Dube, Artist, Gr. Noida

99. Asad Ashraf, Independent journalist

100. Samita Bhatia, Lifestyle writer

101. Jagan Negi freelance, Photo-Journalist

102. Neethu Eldose, Journalist

103. Sunil Menon, Outlook magazine

104. N.B. Nair, Executive Editor, Indian Science Journal

105. Ajith Pillai, journalist

106. Gargi Parsai, Senior Journalist

107. Saroj Nagi, Senior Journalist

108. Dhamini, Journalist

109. Dr Suresh Mathew, Editor, Indian Currents Weekly

110. Raza Haider, Documentary filmmaker

111. Nupur Basu, Documentary filmmaker

112. Kay Benedict, Freelance

113. P.M. Narayanan, Chief Producer, South Asia, ARD, German TV

114. Geeta Seshu, Co-editor, Free Speech by Collective

115. Kushal Jeena, Journalist

116. Ziya Us Salam, Frontline

117. Aditi Bhal, Journalist

118. Dr Mukesh Kumar, Senior Journalist

119. Shachi Chaturvedi, Senior Jornalist

120. Nadeem Ahmed, Journalist

121. Rahil Chopra, Journalist

122. Trina Shankar, Newsclick

123. Fazal Imam Mallick, Senior Journalist

124. Rukmini Anandani, Senior Journalist

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