On 12 July 2021, the Editors Guild of India sent a public note to the press saying, that it is “deeply disturbed by the continuing trend of heavy-handedness by the state authorities in Uttar Pradesh with respect to journalists and media. The latest incident is that of an assault on a journalist by the Chief Development Officer (CDO), in the district of Unnao, UP, on July 10, 2021, when the former was covering polling for Block Pramukh elections. In a video that has gone viral on social media, Krishna Tiwari, a local journalist, is seen being beaten up by Divyanshu Patel (CDO), as well as reportedly some BJP workers.”
The “EGI finds this incident highly condemnable and actionable. This incident has come against the backdrop of increased persecution of journalists in the state of UP, as the administration has punished, penalized, and incarcerated journalists in an effort to intimidate them from freely reporting on crimes, state excesses, and the management of the pandemic. Siddique Kappan, the journalist who was arrested while reporting on the rape and murder of a Dalit woman in Hathras in October 2020, still remains in jail under the draconian UAPA, in spite of several appeals by the family and the civil society to afford him a fair trial and treatment.” The breach of peaces charges against Kappan have been dropped as reported by the Times of India on 16 June 2021 and according to the SDO of Mant, he has been discharged from the matter. Nevertheless Kappan still remains in jail.
“Even though the CDO has subsequently apologized to the journalist, this attitude of heavy-handedness by the administration is hurting the democratic rights of the media, which becomes all the more crucial given that the state goes into polls next year.
“EGI demands that strict action be taken against the official and that concrete steps be taken to improve the environment for independent journalism in the state.”
The statement is signed by Seema Mustafa, president
Sanjay Kapoor, general secretary
Anant Nath, treasurer