On 18 August 2020, Bahujan journalist Prashant Kanojia was arrested by Uttar Pradesh police. He is being held in custody over a tweet he had forwarded, which he had immediately deleted upon learning that it contained fake news. This is a routine social media behaviour that one observes on the platform almost every day.

However, this was used as a pretext for arresting Kanojia. Furthermore, the Allahabad High Court accepted the Uttar Pradesh government’s request that it be given four weeks to respond to his bail plea. This ensures that Kanojia remains incarcerated for an extended period of time.

This is not the first time Kanojia has been arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police over a tweet. In a similar incident last year, he was detained for ‘objectionable comments’ against the Uttar Pradesh chief minister on Twitter. On that occasion the Supreme Court had ordered his immediate release. However, the harassment has continued.

It is clear that the arrest and detention of Kanojia is politically motivated and driven by vendetta. It fits a larger pattern of Uttar Pradesh administration attempting to silence dissenting voices. In recent times it has repeatedly gone after activists and journalists alike using questionable legal pretexts. This is a clear attack on the right to free speech, and the Uttar Pradesh government needs to be held accountable for attempting to create this ‘chilling effect’ by intimidating and silencing its critics.

Prashant Kanojia is a well-respected journalist with a big social media following. Being an outspoken Bahujan with a mass following, who consistently raises issues of caste-based exclusion and violence, his arrest has to be seen as an attack on the anti-caste activists. We, the undersigned, condemn these intimidation and harassment tactics of the Uttar Pradesh government and demand Kanojia’s early and timely release.

We stand in solidarity with Prashant Kanojia. #StandWithPrashantKanojia

Jai Bhim!

Signatories:

 

Tejas Harad
Meena Kandasamy
SnehaJanaki
Raksha Singh.
Vandit Jain
Vaishnavi Suresh
Sidhant arya
Nikita Sonavane
Sneha Krishnan
Safvana
Samira Nadkarni
Gurmehar Kaur
Megha Sanyal
Ravikant Kisana
Deepak
Surbhi Karwa
Anurag Prabhakar
Parishit singh
Ananya Iyer
Jeetu Kumar
Pamela Philipose
Divya Kandukuri
Abhilash Durugkar
Siddhesh Gautam
Stuti Mamen
Anand
Neha Shetty
Akhil Rana
Hritik Lalan
Pragati Kulkarni
Kevin Vegda
Ishita
Swati
Gehna Kapoor
Antara Telang
Ila Ananya
Aditya Naique
Manasi Elise Tomy
Neeru
Sridhar Jeripothula
Saurabh Lokhande
Jagisha Arora
Pallavi Pratibha
Arun T
Geeta Seshu
Ananya Pandey
Ahalya Ganesh
Damni Kain
Surabhi Anans
Rajvi
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Vaishnavi Puranik
Bhanuj Kappal
Priyanka Borpujari
aakash r
Sandhya Ravishankar
Rohin Kumar
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Mahesh Rajput
Sahil Valmiki
Smriti Nevatia
Amelia Correa
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