Delhi is witnessing the hottest June ever this year. But this year may be “Amaltas Bloomed” as the strength of citizens to fight back. Attack on dissent and freedom of speech is nothing new in this country, and I am sure that this won’t end soon, but this was the time to agitate and raise our voice against the Uttar Pradesh police when the news came that journalist Prashant Kanojia, a freelance journalist was arrested from his Noida residence. Two other journalists were also arrested by the UP police.
“Prashant Kanojia, a freelance journalist, was arrested by Uttar Pradesh police in Delhi on Saturday for a tweet that had “objectionable comments” on Yogi Adityanath. Kanojia, he was picked up from his home in Delhi after a complaint by a police officer in Lucknow, alleging he tried to “malign” Yogi Adityanath’s image. He had shared a video on Twitter and Facebook where a woman is seen speaking to reporters of various media organisations outside Yogi Adityanath’s office, claiming that she had sent him a marriage proposal,” noted a report published in NDTV.
People who know Prashant will always accept that he is critical of every political dispensation. He slammed the BJP as well as Congress when he felt it was important to do so. In his life, he firmly believes in fighting for the fundamental rights and justice. But, a person who is critical of every political party can be more dangerous for the ruling party of India (BJP), therefore, the UP government did not spare him.
On Monday, Prashant’s wife Jagisha Arora, moved the Supreme Court thereafter on Tuesday morning, SC ordered the UP government to immediately release Prashant. The NDTV reported “Journalist Prashant Kanojia, who was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police for “defaming” Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, must immediately be released, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday. The right to liberty, a fundamental right, is non-negotiable”, the court said as it granted bail.
“It is made clear that this order is not construed as an approval of tweets,” the top court said as reported by NDTV. The NDTV quoted the SC bench saying, “We may disapprove of these tweets but we also disapprove the denial of liberty.”
Prashant’s release and the observations of the SC should be marked carefully. Whatever the majoritarian political parties and governments believe, our constitution is absolutely clear about the fundamental rights of the citizens. Freedom of speech and expression is one of the fundamental rights, we as citizens have. After the end of 2019 Lok Sabha election, and forming of the new government by BJP with a historic majority, this was the first attack on the freedom of speech and expression.
I think that the ruling political party will not stop going against the dissenters—because every political dispensation in power is scared of free thought. But as citizens we must remember Prashant’s arrest and the subsequent order of the Supreme Court, because this will give us the strength to fight the majoritarian politics in future. Our constitution guarantees us the right to express, practice any religion, choose and live however we want. The political parties will always try to curb all these rights, but we have to fight back and question them. Questioning a political act or a policy or a leader is not wrong and it is part of our fundamental rights!