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New Delhi, July 10, 2024 –The Committee to Protect Journalists on Wednesday called on police in Uttar Pradesh state to drop their investigation into a claim that independent journalists Zakir Ali Tyagi and Wasim Akram Tyagi incited religious enmity through “malicious” posts on social media platform X alleging that a Muslim resident of Shamli district was killed in a July 4 “mob lynching.” 

“The criminal investigation against journalists Zakir Ali Tyagi and Wasim Akram Tyagi for highlighting potential police misconduct and sectarian tensions are an alarming misuse of the legal system,” said CPJ India Representative Kunal Majumder. “The authorities should drop this investigation and focus on addressing the issues raised by these journalists rather than punishing them for their work.”

Police opened the investigation into the journalists and three others on July 6 following a complaint by Manendra Kumar, a police sub-inspector at Thana Bhawan police station in the area, according to a First Information Report (FIR) reviewed by CPJ.

Zakir had reported the death and that police were investigating charges of culpable homicide via X on July 5. He and Waseem, who are not related, suggested authorities were trying to help the alleged killers by not classifying the death as a murder.

Kumar’s complaint claims that the posts by Zakir and Wasim violate two sections of the new penal code – section 196 for promoting enmity between groups which is punishable by up to three years in prison, a fine, or both, and section 353 for statements causing public mischief which is punishable up to three years in prison with or without a fine.

Shamli police superintendent Abhisekh, who goes by one name, did not respond to CPJ’s email requesting comment on the investigation.

Source of original article: Asia Archives – Committee to Protect Journalists (cpj.org).
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