LUCKNOW: Freelance journalist Prashant Kanojia, who was arrested by the UP police and had been in jail for the last two months, was granted bail by the Lucknow bench of the High Court here on Wednesday.
Kanojia was arrested on August 18 by the Uttar Pradesh police following an FIR lodged against him at Hazaratganj police station in the state capital on August 17, accusing him of making a social media post which had the potential to promote enmity among castes and communities.
Kanojia was earlier denied bail by the sessions court in Lucknow and had moved the high court on September 8. When his case came up before a single-judge bench comprising Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh on September 21, the judge ordered that the matter be listed four weeks hence.
The FIR against Kanojia was lodged by Shashank Shekhar Singh under Sections 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory), 505(1)(b) (statements cinducing to public mischief with intent to cause fear ot alarm to the public) and 500 (Defamamtion) of IPC and Sections 67 of the Information Technology Act.
As per sources, the FIR had mentioned that the scribe had posted pictures of the President of India, PM and UP CM Yogi Adityanath accompanied by objectionable text.
He had allegedly made comments referring to the Dalit community and his posts were intended to incite caste and religious conflict. The complainant had allegedly underlined that Kanojia had criminal antecedents and he had been arrested earlier also over his social media posts.
The case was rooted in a Facebook post by a Hindutva activist, Sushil Tiwari, head of the self-styled ‘Hindu Army’, in which he posted a photograph of himself with the words – ‘UPSC se Islamic Study turant hatakar Vedic Study joda jai, sabhi log ek saath avaaz uthayein‘ (Let everyone demand that the UPSC remove Islamic Study and add Vedic Study’).
Taking a cue from there, unknown persons began circulating this image with the changed message: ‘Ram mandir mein Shudron, OBC, SC, ST ka pravesh nishedh rahega sabhi log ek saath avaaz uthayein‘ (‘Let everyone demand that Shudras, OBC, SC, ST not be allowed entry into the Ram mandir’). Police alleged that Kanojia tweeted this morphed image and registered a case against him.
Kanojia was arrested last year as well, for a tweet that the UP police claimed had insulted chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
His wife Jagisha Arora took to Twitter and confirmed the news. "Prashant got bail from the High Court. My faith in the Judiciary and the Constitution of Baba Saheb brought this result. I want to thank all those who helped me in my fight," she wrote.
प्रशांत को हाई कोर्ट से जमानत मिल गई है. मेरा न्यायपालिका और बाबा साहेब के संविधान पर विश्वास रंग लाया. मैं सभी लोगों का शुक्रिया अदा करना चाहती हूं जो मेरी लड़ाई में मेरे साथी बने. सबको शुक्रिया.@PJkanojia लव यू pic.twitter.com/pDAj9vVnQC— Jagisha Arora (@jagishaarora) October 21, 2020
Kanojia was picked up from his Delhi residence for the third time allegedly for posting a morphed tweet related to Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.