At least 55 media persons were targeted with arrests, custodial torture, FIRs and show-cause notices during the nationwide lockdown enforced to limit the spread of COVID-19, Deccan Herald has reported.
Citing a report titled 'India: Media’s Crackdown during COVID-19 Lockdown', the publication said between March 25 and May 31, 55 journalists faced arrest, registration of FIRs, summons or show-cause notices, physical assault, alleged destruction of property, and threats for their reportage.
According to the report, Uttar Pradesh topped the list with at least 11 journalists facing action, followed by Jammu and Kashmir. Altogether, journalists faced action in 19 states, including Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Delhi.
The cases were filed for reporting starvation faced by migrant workers, mismanagement and negligence of quarantine centres and even for reporting a minister following the suggestions of astrologers, the report pointed out.
FIRs have been registered against 22 journalists under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), IT Act, Disaster Management Act, Motor Vehicles Act, SC/ST Act as well as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the report – prepared by a private watchdog Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) – pointed out.
At least 10 journalists were arrested on charges of spreading misinformation, exposing shortage of PPEs and food, reporting corruption and flouting lockdown norms.
Four others, including Arnab Goswami and Vinod Dua, were given protection from arrest by the Supreme Court.
While seven journalists were issued show-cause notices, at least nine were subjected to beating, including two in police custody, the report mentioned.