Restive journalists in UP take to social media to voice their angst-write routine stuff for safety 

Journalists in Uttar Pradesh are increasingly taking to social media to give voice to their frustration. Only routine stories and pro-government stories are ‘safe’, they complain

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath

Biswajeet Banerjee

Even before the dust raised by the arrest of four journalists in Gautam Bubh Nagar , followed by an FIR lodged against another reporter in Mirzapur could settle, there are reports of yet another journalist in Lucknow being threatened for allegedly writing anti-government stories.

Asad Rizvi, who writes for Urdu daily Awadh Nama claims that when he wrote about hoardings and posters being removed from old city areas of Lucknow, a police inspector called him up and suggested that he should stop writing against the government.

“The inspector told me that I should take the police version from him before writing any story. I told him that the story carried the version of the ADM (West), his senior. Still he asked me to inform him before writing any such story,” Asad told this reporter.

Restive journalists in UP take to social media to voice their angst-write routine stuff for safety 

Asad also shared a post on his Facebook account which reads: “… Asad was intimidated by local police for putting out a story in well-known daily Awadh Nama highlighting the restrictions imposed by the administration on Moharram hoardings.” It further says that Asad was also warned that he should restrain from such writings in future.

The government action was raised during a press briefing after the cabinet meeting. A senior journalist even jocularly enquired from top official whether he has the freedom to ask questions in the press conference. “Stay clear of any controversy. Do your work silently. Do not go for breaking news. File routine stories and if possible sometimes pro-government stories,” another senior reporter quipped.

Restive journalists in UP take to social media to voice their angst-write routine stuff for safety 

A senior journalist Zafar Irshad wrote a post on his Facebook that journalists should not think about bringing a revolution. They should prepare reports out of Press Releases, cover political rallies and go home. He further wrote: “… let me save my job. There is a long time left for my retirement.”

Some argue that four journalists who were arrested by Gautam Budh Nagar police were once the blue eyed boys of the police. The website which now police claims was used for leading a campaign against government was used by the local police to plant stories of their good work.

“Some of the stories of that website were even re-tweeted by senior IPS officers of the ranks of ADGs and IGs,”a crime reporter said. “When those reporters wrote against government they became anti-national,” he said.

The FIR against local journalist in Mirzapur for circulating the video of salt and flatbread served to school children, has however divided BJP. A section of senior leaders say the FIR was unwarranted. “Some more ‘loyal than the king’ bureaucrats took action against the journalist which was unwarranted. The government could have controlled the damage caused by the video that went viral by suspending some officials and by transferring the Basic Shiksha Adhikari. But with the ill-thought action of local officials, the state government scored a self goal,” the leader said.

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