Journalists under attack in Yogi's UP: Is this how Adityanath is redefining Modi 2.0?
The BJP stormed to power in UP promising to end 'jungle raj'. But the same reign of lawlessness seems to have only increased, this time, with journalists at the receiving end of police power.
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Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath is redefining 'Modi 2.0' — and how.
If UP was known as the land of 'goonda raj', Adityanath seems to be ensuring that the state police has exclusive copyright over perpetuating that raj. If Narendra Modi set out the challenge of winning the trust of those who supported his saffron party, as well as those who opposed the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Adityanath is apparently ensuring Modi’s ‘those’ do not include journalists.
The UP chief minister seems to be in overdrive mode to instill fear among journalists, perhaps so they refrain from doing their job. On the very day the Supreme Court rapped the UP government for illegally incarcerating journalist Prashant Kanojia over a tweet, a gruesome video emerged on June 11, showing another journalist being punched, slapped and abused by a group of policemen.
#WATCH Shamli: GRP personnel thrash a journalist who was covering the goods train derailment near Dhimanpura tonight. He says, "They were in plain clothes. One hit my camera&it fell down. When I picked it up they hit&abused me. I was locked up, stripped&they urinated in my mouth" pic.twitter.com/nS4hiyFF1G— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) June 11, 2019
In both cases, the UP police led the charge in this seeming project to silence journalists.
Amit Sharma, a stringer for TV channel News24, alleged a group of Railway Police personnel locked him up and abused him while he was covering the derailment of a train in Shamli district.
His ordeal did not stop there — Sharma was allegedly locked up, stripped and he says the cops even urinated in his mouth. Sharma’s phone and camera were reportedly snatched from him. According to Sharma, the phone was snatched away because it had the footage of a story he had done on the Railway Police about a fortnight ago.
If you silence journalists, there is no way of knowing whether Yogi Adityanath has managed to meet the challenge thrown at BJP legislators by Prime Minister Modi who is now leading Modi 2.0, a presumably modern and inclusive model of governance. Without journalists reporting and reflecting on ground realities — and absurdities — no one will know how Modi 2.0 is actually working in Yogi's UP. The chief minister can literally do what he wants.
Is this how Yogi Adityanath envisions Modi 2.0? (Photo: PTI)
In case this isn't so, how would it then be possible that the chief minister has explicitly told the police of the state the rule of law must prevail — and the cops are defying him? If this is the situation, that too does not reflect well on Modi 2.0.
Kanojia’s case is an example of how the state government and the police were working in apparent tandem to corner the freelance journalist. While the police arrested Kanojia over the weekend apparently to prevent him from applying for bail, the UP government opposed relief saying he must approach the High Court. The state government said he was arrested not for his latest tweet on Yogi Adityanath, but for his older tweets which were allegedly casteist.
In 2017, the BJP had stormed to power in UP, the largest state, with 312 out of its 403 seats, on the promise of freeing Uttar Pradesh from the very same jungle raj — which it is now blatantly encouraging.
The Pulitzer Award-winning editorial of the Evening World Herald, "Law and the Jungle", used the term in 1919, where Harvey Newbranch took the analogy of a jungle in the context of a white mob lynching a black man in a courthouse during a race riot in Nebraska. Newbranch wrote, "Under jungle rule no man's life is safe, no man's wife, no man's mother, sister, children, home, liberty, rights, property is safe."
In a state where police officers themselves are beating up people for doing their job, or incarcerating them for ‘crossing the line’ with a joke, jungle raj is real — not proverbial.
Adityanath’s governance of UP in terms of the state’s law and order is a sordid picture of complete disorder.
If this is how Adityanath plans to win our trust, he is gravely mistaken. Modi — or rather, Modi 2.0 — must step in to clear the picture for Yogi.