The Uttar Pradesh Police on Sunday arrested a YouTuber after he questioned a state minister about her election promises, The Indian Express reported.
The man, Sanjay Rana, runs a news channel on YouTube. On March 11, he had asked Minister of State (Independent) for Secondary Education Gulab Devi about the status of promises she had made ahead of the Assembly elections in the state.
Rana asked Devi why a number of development projects promised for the village of Budhnagar Khandwa – including the construction of a marriage hall, a road and public toilets – were not completed.
A video of the incident was shared widely on social media. In the video, a woman not seen on camera was heard asking Rana whether he was putting forward a concern or “engaging in propaganda”.
A Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha leader named Shubham Raghav filed a complaint against the YouTuber, after which he was arrested in the Sambhal district. Raghav alleged that Rana was a “fake” journalist and interfered in government work during a state minister’s programme.
The BJYM leader also alleged that Rana abused and assaulted him and then threatened him while leaving the venue, according to The Indian Express.
A first information report has been filed against Rana under Sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the Indian Penal Code. The police arrested him under Section 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which allows authorities to arrest a person to prevent the commission of a cognisable offence.
Chandausi Station House Officer Satendra Pawar said that Rana was later released.
The YouTuber said that he had not done anything wrong. “I have video evidence to prove that there was no threat issued from my side,” he said. “If someone is making false statements about the development in the area, shouldn’t you question it?”
Commenting on the case, the Samajwadi Party remarked that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party only wants journalists who do not question its work. “If this is not an undeclared emergency and dictatorship under the BJP government, then what else is it?”
Last month, the Uttar Pradesh Police had issued a notice to Bhojpuri folk singer Neha Singh Rathore for her song UP mein ka ba, alleging that it created social disharmony.
The development had come after Rathore had shared a folk song that criticised Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath while referring to an incident in which two women immolated themselves during an anti-encroachment drive in the Kanpur Dehat district.