Mumbai High Court has granted protection to journalist Rana Ayyub from arrest for four weeks.
Ayyub’s name has been registered by the Uttar Pradesh police in an FIR for tweets about allegations of attack on a Muslim man in Ghaziabad district.
Apart from Ayyub, the UP Police had also named in the FIR are The Wire, Twitter India, journalists Mohammed Zubair and Saba Naqvi, Twitter India and Congress leaders Shama Mohamed, Salman Nizami and Maskoor Usmani in the FIR registered in relation to a tweet showing a Ghaziabad Muslim man’s beard being chopped off by some attackers.
A single bench of Justice P.D. Naik in his order noted that Ayyub was seeking protection from arrest, she gave Ayyub four-weeks’ transit anticipatory bail to enable her to approach the appropriate court to seek relief in the case.
Justice Naik ordered, “In case of arrest within four weeks, the petitioner will be released on execution of a PR bond of Rs 25,000 with one or more guarantees.”
Appearing for Ayub today, Senior Advocate Mihir Desai said that the maximum punishment for all the offenses registered under the FIR was three years imprisonment.
He submitted that she apprehended arrest, because she was a journalist. He added that Ayub deleted her tweet on Twitter after finding out the truth about the video.
Ayyub was seeking interim bail in connection with an FIR lodged by UP police for tweeting a video from Ghaziabad showing that some of the attackers had cut the beard of a Muslim man.
The video was uploaded to social media “Allegedly without confirming the authenticity of the video.”
The FIR has been sharply criticized by international and domestic media organizations, who have called it a violation of free speech and freedom of the media.
Journalist groups and organizations such as Reporters Sans Frontiers, the Committee for Protect Journalists, the Editors Guild of India and the Mumbai Press Club and Digipub have condemned each other’s move by journalists and organizations for tweets that have been shared several times. Was and has been reported by several outlets.
Uttar Pradesh police are investigating Ayyub, two journalists and The Wire have accused the complainant of violating Sections 153 (provocation of rioting), 153A (promoting animosity between religious groups), 295A (Is an insult to religious beliefs), 505 (Public riot), and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
Although police claim there was no sectarian angle to the attack in Ghaziabad, the victim’s family has challenged the police version.