New Delhi, Nov 9 (PTI) The Editors Guild of India on Monday urged Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to address vital issues of protecting press freedom, underlining that several incidents have come to fore recently which raise 'deep concerns' on the space for independent journalism in the state.
In a letter to Adityanath, the Guild said that while he was right to promptly uphold the freedom of the press when an editor of a TV channel was arrested in Mumbai, there are far more compelling cases of 'intimidation, harassment by authorities of working journalists in UP, who were prevented from doing their job'.
Adityanath had slammed the arrest of Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami last week. Goswami was arrested from his residence in Mumbai for allegedly abetting suicide of a 53-year-old interior designer.
'We are writing to urge you to address vital issues with respect to protecting press freedom and the rights and safety of working journalists in the state of Uttar Pradesh,' said the letter signed by Editors Guild president Seema Mustafa, general secretary Sanjay Kapoor and treasurer Anant Math.
'In the recent past, several incidents have come to fore, which raise deep concerns on the space for free, fearless and independent journalism in Uttar Pradesh,' they said.
The Guild also listed some of the cases in which journalists have been 'unjustifiably arrested on spurious charges'.
It cited the case of Siddiqui Kappan, a Delhi-based journalist who works for Malayalam news portal Azhimukham, saying that accompanied by three others, he was on his way to Hathras, to report the gang rape of a Dalit girl, when he was picked up in Mathura on October 5, 2020, and later booked under Section 17 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The Guild also cited the case registered against Supriya Sharma, Executive Editor of Scroll on June 18, 2020, for reporting a series of stories on the poor state of affairs in Varanasi.
To highlight the concerns regarding press freedom in the state, the Guild also cited several other cases in which journalists were booked while they were doing their job of reporting.
'As the Chief Minister of India's largest state, you are well aware of the important precedence that the state sets with respect to safeguarding all constitutional rights,' the letter to the CM said.
'This is especially crucial with respect to preserving the space for free media, more so at a time when the world has been in the throes of a pandemic. Media has played an important role in raising awareness about the pandemic,' it said.
'We urge you to free the jailed journalists, withdraw cases that are under review, as well as to ensure safety of all working journalists in the state,' the Guild said.
The Guild said it is keen to send a delegation of national editors to Lucknow to meet the chief minister and to work with his administration to explore ways that can create a protective environment for the media to work without fear or favour. PTI ASK ANB ANB