On the evening of 17 August, the Uttar Pradesh Police lodged an FIR against Prashant Kanojia, a journalist, at the Hazaratganj police station in Lucknow. The FIR—filed on the basis of a complaint by Dinesh Kumar Shukla, a sub-inspector at the police station—accused Kanojia of sharing an “objectionable” post with a morphed image of Sushil Tiwari, a leader of the Hindu Army. The next day, the police took the journalist into custody and he is still in jail.
This is not the first time that Kanojia has been imprisoned. In June last year, the state police arrested him on the basis of a complaint by Vikas Kumar, another sub-inspector in Lucknow, for a tweet about the state’s chief minister Ajay Singh Bisht, popularly known as Adityanath. He was released within a week on the basis of a Supreme Court order.
Kanojia’s wife, Jagisha Arora, spoke of the arrests with Vishnu Sharma, a Hindi translation fellow at The Caravan. The conversation was originally published in the publication’s Hindi website, the Caravan Hindi, on 6 October. Arora said that her husband was being targeted for being a journalist from the Dalit community.
Vishnu Sharma: Under what circumstances was Kanojia arrested?
Jagisha Arora: Around noon on 18 August—my birthday—Uttar Pradesh Police came to our house in Delhi to arrest Prashant. I opened the door and asked who they were. “Call Prashant, he knows us,” they said. When we learnt that they were from the UP police, we asked them, “In which case do you want to arrest Prashant?” But all they said was that it was in connection to a tweet. When asked what was this tweet was, they said I should find out on my own.
The police told us that at that moment, they were taking Prashant to the Vasant Vihar police station for getting a transit remand. They told me to reach the police station in half an hour and find out about the matter. After 15–20 minutes, when I reached the Vasant Vihar police station, I came to know that they have not come there. I had taken the mobile number of one of the five–six policemen who had come to pick up Prashant—when I called the number, I was told that they have crossed Noida.