Editors Guild condemns FIR against journalists

The Editors Guild of India (EGI) strongly condemned the “intimidating manner” in which FIRs were filed by the Uttar Pradesh and Madya Pradesh police against senior journalists and editors for tweeting about the farmer protests on January 26.

The EGI said that the journalists were specifically targeted for reporting their account of the death of one of the protestors during the violence that ensued at the Red Fort after a tractor rally in the national capital. 

“On a thick day with information, the EGI finds these FIRs, filed in different states, as an attempt to intimidate, harass, browbeat, and stifle the media,” the statement said.

The FIR was filed against India Today journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, National Herald’s senior consulting editor Mrinal Pande, Qaumi Awaz editor Zafar Agha, The Caravan magazine’s editor and founder Paresh Nath, The Caravan editor Anant Nath and its executive editor Vinod K Jose.

The FIRs against the journalists allege that the tweets were intentionally malicious and had incited the protestors to storm into the Red Fort.

The EGI demanded the FIRs to be withdrawn immediately and the media be allowed to report without fear and with freedom.

Delhi police arrest freelance journalist at Singhu border

Mandeep Punia, a freelance journalist who has written for publications such as The Caravan and Junputh, has been arrested by the Delhi police at the Singhu protest site on January 30.

The Delhi court has ordered Punia to be under judicial custody for 14 days for “obstructing police in discharge of their duties and beating police personnel.”

Press groups condemn police action, demand release

The Indian Women’s Press Corps, Press Club of India, and the Press Association released a joint statement condemning the brutal police action against journalists and demanded the release of Mandeep Punia. 

“Such crackdowns impinge on the media’s right to report freely and interferes with out right to freedom of expression, and freedom of the press as guaranteed by the Constitution of India,” the statement said. 

Article14, an online journalism platform, tweeted that the police have filed FIRs against nine journalists nationwide since January 28.

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Press Freedom: Editors Guild forms legal panel

The Editors Guild of India formed a legal advisory panel constituting Kapil Sibal, Menaka Guruswamy, Shyam Divan, Sanjay Hegde, Rajiv Nayar, Prashant Kumar and Shahrukh Alam to work on issues relating to press freedom.

The Guild, which is also planning to expand the panel, said in its statement that it will help make responses to laws used by authorities to suppress media freedom.

“The panel will be expanded in the coming days to include more members of the legal fraternity from across different states, who have worked in the realm of freedom of expression and media related issues,” read the statement.

‘Deeply concerned’ about Patricia Mukhim

The Guild expressed its concerns over a case pertaining to a Facebook post by Patricia Mukhim, Editor of Shillong Times, who had condemned an attack on non-tribals youths in Meghalaya. Mukhim was arrested under IPC sections 153A/500/505C IPC (offences promoting disharmony and enmity between different groups as well as criminal defamation).

The statement, which said that the case was an example of how multiple legal provisions can be used against free press, came days after Mukhim resigned from the Guild as a sign of protest against its ‘selective discrimination’.

“The silence has been very troubling. Don’t go silent when a member is afflicted,” Mukhim told the Guild in a video message.

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