Freelance journalist from Delhi – Mandeep Punia, who had ‘exposed’ the role of BJP in the violence that broke out at Singhu border near the National Capital on Friday (January 29), has been sent to 14-day judicial custody by a Delhi Court.

Punia has been charged under Sections 186 (voluntarily obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Mandeep Punia was allegedly thrashed and detained by the Delhi Police on late Saturday night, just hours after he went live on Facebook, ‘exposing’ the alleged nexus between the Delhi Police and BJP workers, who caused large-scale violence at the farmers’ protest site on Friday.

Punia had shared ‘evidence’ that ‘establishes’ links between the perpetrators of violence on Friday and ruling BJP in the Centre.

Police have accused Punia of obstructing them in the discharge of their duties and beating police personnel.

According to the FIR, a group of protesters “clung to the policemen”, and “one of them dragged Constable Rajkumar towards the protest site”. When police used “minimal force to control the situation…the man who was dragging our constable fell in the canal”, says the FIR.

“He was identified as Mandeep Punia… Punia and the protesters who came along with him obstructed police personnel in their duty and also thrashed them,” the FIR says.

Meanwhile, the Editors Guild of India (EGI) on Monday demanded for immediate release of Mandeep Punia.

The EGI stated that Punia’s arrest was an attempt to muzzle the voices of independent journalists who were busting fake news.

“The Editors Guild of India is deeply concerned over the incarceration of freelance journalist Mandeep Punia who was reporting on the farm protest from Singhu border,” the EGI said in a statement.

“Punia’s arrest is an attempt to muzzle young courageous voices of independent journalists that through reporting are busting fake news and speaking truth to power,” the EGI further said.

The EGI demanded: “EGI demands that Mandeep Punia be released forthwith and Delhi Police restore circumstances in which media can report without fear or favour.”

Earlier on Sunday, a group of journalists on Sunday staged a protest outside the Delhi Police Headquarters against the arrest of freelance journalist Mandeep Punia.

Calling it an ‘attack on journalism’, the protesters working for different media organsitations carried posters and placards to express support to the journalist.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has once again taken a dig at the Centre over the arrest of Mandeep Punia.

Rahul Gandhi said, “Those who fear truth, arrest real journalists.”

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Actor-turned-politician Urmila Matondkar said, “Upsetting and stifling to see REAL and hardworking journalists just disappear. Where are those heavy weight leaders/ministers who took time and efforts to tweet about freedom of press while Arnab was questioned?”

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