The Editors Guild of India on Wednesday condemned the string of police action being reported against journalists across the country. In a letter, it called such reports as disturbing. It said there was “a growing pattern of misuse of criminal laws” to intimidate journalists. The guild cited two instances – one from Gujarat and another from Delhi.
In the Gujarat case a journalist, Dhaval Patel, the editor of a Gujarati news website, was charged with sedition after he published an article suggesting that Chief Minister Vijay Rupani may be replaced by Union minister Mansukh Mandaviya. The article had also said that the top leaders of BJP were unhappy with Rupani’s management of the coronavirus crisis in the state.
The Guild said that this was an instance of police misusing the special laws. “The government and the police must recognise that the media is an integral part of the governance structure in any democracy,” the guild said in the statement. “The Guild condemns these actions and asks the state and central governments to desist from misusing the law to threaten the free press,” it further said.
In Delhi, the police had issued a notice to the city editor and reporter of Indian Express newspaper after it carried an article on the Tablighi Jamaat inquiry which the cops claimed was factually incorrect. The cops threatened the journalist with police action and jail if he failed to cooperate with the investigation.