India: Journalists under threat in Uttar Pradesh12 Sep, 2019
In the past week journalists have come under threat in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, targeted by authorities for simply doing their job. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Indian Journalist Union (IJU) have strongly condemned the targeted action from authorities, harassing journalists in the state, and demanded immediate action from the local government to end the crackdown.
On September 6, journalist Santosh Jaiswal was arrested for taking photos and videos of children mopping floors at a local primary school. Jaiswal had called police to complain, however when police arrived they arrested him on charges of “extortion and obstructing public servants from doing their duties”. According to IJU Jaiswal’s arrest was due to him regularly visiting the school, taking photos and trying to extort the principal for the photos. On Monday, an investigation was demanded after local journalists informed a local magistrate that the police action against Jaiswal was in retaliation to a report he published on errors by the Phulpur police.
The arrest comes a week after an FIR was filed against Pawan Jaiswal for reporting kids in Mirzapur school eating chapatis and salt in their mid-day meal.
On the same day, police in Uklana district filed an FIR against STV Haryana journalist Anop Khundu for showing wheat spoiled in the open at the centre of the Food & Supplies Department. The FIR came after the Department’s Assistant officer Sanjay Chahal registered a complaint claiming the news to be “false” and that Kundhu was “spoiling the image of the department and the official.”
IJU Secretary General and IFJ Vice President Sabina Inderjit said that journalists’ targeting by governments reveals their intolerance to the truth and curtailment of the citizens’ right to be informed. Worse, to cover their misdeeds their administration was implicating journalists instead as revealed in these cases.
The IFJ said: “Journalists cannot work in an environment of fear and intimidation, with police or authorities taking retaliatory action for their work. We stand in solidarity with our colleagues in India and call on the local government to ensure there is an end to this culture of harassment and intimidation, and that all charges against Jaiswal are dropped.”