After two months of custody, on Wednesday, Prashant Kanojia, a freelance journalist was granted bail by the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court. The police will release him on October 22, 2020, Thursday. Prashant got arrested by UP police from his Delhi residence for allegedly posting a morphed tweet related to construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
The police had filed an FIR against the journalist at Hazratganj Police Station over his tweet by a morphed photo on social media post made by a Hindu Army leader named Sushil Tiwari. The FIR suggests that the post had an intention to promote enmity between two or more communities. The High Court has given four weeks' time to UP state government to file a reply on a bail plea by Prashant.
Prashanth said that he deleted the alleged social media post after realizing that it was fake.
International Journalist Organization and Reporters Without Borders have condemned the arrest and extended solidarity to the detained Delhi-based journalist and Dalit activists.
They charged Kanojia for violating 9 Indian Penal Code articles for which maximum sentence is 28 years of imprisonment. The UP police had also accused him of violating Section 66 an of IT act that says "Any person who sends by any means of a computer resource any information that is grossly offensive or has a menacing character; or any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, shall be punishable for imprisonment for a term of three years with fine".
"It is good news that the court has granted him bail. We always believed that there is hardly any case against him. With this order of Allahabad High Court, we have a hope that they also set they will release other journalists who have been implicated in false cases by the state of UP and languishing in jail at the earliest. I sincerely hope Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan is also granted bail soon". Mahtab Alam, a Delhi-based journalist, told Madhyamam.
Prashant's partner Jagisha Arora had been fighting all alone for the release of Prashant. This is for the second time he has been arrested by the UP police. The former 'Wire Hindi' Journalist was detained in June 2019 by Uttar Pradesh Police for his critical social media post against UP Chief Minister, Yogi Adithyanath. He was released after five days in this case, where Supreme Court granted him bail.