Skip to main content

Deadly threat from Modi's nationalism, warns Reporters Without Borders, as India "slips" in Press Freedom Index

By Our Representative
In its new ranking, the prestigious international non-profit, non-government organization, Reporters Without Borders (RWB), has ranked India 138th out of 180 countries it has assessed in its World Press Freedom Index (WPFI). Ranking two points lower than two years (India ranked 136th in 2017), RWB has blamed “Deadly threat from Modi’s nationalism” for India’s poor ranking.
Commenting on its new ranking, worked out against the backdrop of World Press Freedom Day (May 3), RWB said, “With Hindu nationalists trying to purge all manifestations of ‘anti-national’ thought from the national debate, self-censorship is growing in the mainstream media and journalists are increasingly the targets of online smear campaigns by the most radical nationalists, who vilify them and even threaten physical reprisals.”
Noting that “at least three of the journalists murdered in 2017 were targeted in connection with their work”, including the newspaper editor Gauri Lankesh, “who had been the target of a hate campaign on social networks”, RWB said, “Three other journalists were killed for their professional activity in March 2018.”
India's "deadliest" states for journalists
According to RWF, “Prosecutions are also used to gag journalists who are overly critical of the government, with some prosecutors invoking Section 124a of the penal code, under which ‘sedition’ is punishable by life imprisonment”, underlining, “No journalist has so far been convicted of sedition but the threat encourages self-censorship.”
RWF said, “Coverage of regions that the authorities regard as sensitive, such as Kashmir, continues to be very difficult. Foreign reporters are barred from the region and the Internet is often disconnected there. When not detained, Kashmiri journalists working for local media outlets are often the targets of violence by soldiers acting with the central government’s tacit consent.”
RWF has ranked Pakistan 139th, just one point lower than India, and same as 2017, even as ranking Bangladesh 146th. However, India’s three other neighbours rank better than India: Nepal 106th, Sri Lanka 131th and Myanmar 136th.
RWF ranking comes amidst its strong condemnation of “physical attacks on journalists covering last month’s process of filing candidate nominations for panchayat elections in West Bengal, calling on the authorities t”o ensure that journalists are protected during the coming elections.” Ten journalists were attacked by party activists while covering the nomination process on April 23, the last day for filing nominations.
Rana Ayyub
“Many others were attacked early in the month by supporters of Trinamool Congress (TMC), West Bengal’s ruling party, and by supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP, India’s ruling party”, RWF noted.
Last month, RWF condemned what it called “unprecedented week-old hate campaign on social networks against Indian freelance journalist Rana Ayyub”, calling on the “government and the New Delhi police to do whatever is necessary to protect her.” It said, “Ayyub has been exposed to a living hell ever since 20 April, when a tweet purporting to have been posted by a TV channel falsely quoted her as having defended the perpetrators of the gang-rape of a child and as having accused the Hindu nationalist government of using the case to persecute Muslims.”
“A torrent of sexist insults ensued. Porn videos have been posted online with her head digitally imposed over the heads of the actresses. There have even been calls for her to be gang-raped and murdered”, RWF says, quoting Ayyub as saying, “I couldn’t sleep for three nights, I couldn’t talk… The trolls posted my phone number, the address of my house online. If this is the depth of their hatred, what will stop them from coming into my house as a mob and kill me?”
According RWF, “A Facebook post left little doubt about the source of the campaign. Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it said: ‘Look, Rana Ayyub, what they’ve spread about you. Don’t ever dare to speak about Hindus and Modi again’.”
“Ayyub, who was nominated last October for the RSF Press Freedom Prize, is famous for a book she wrote describing how Modi exploited the anti-Muslim riots in the state of Gujarat in 2002, which marked the start of his rise to the position of Prime Minister”, RWF said.

Comments

Uma said…
It feels like Emergency days are back again--only in a different guise

TRENDING

'These people shouldn't be in jail': UN official seeks release of 16 human rights defenders

By Our Representative A United Nations human rights official has called upon the Government of India (GoI) to “immediately release" 16 human rights defenders who have been imprisoned on charges of terrorism in the Bhima-Koregaon Case, insisting, “These people should not be in jail. They are our modern-day heroes and we should all be looking to them and supporting them and demanding their release.”  

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

Fr Stan's arrest figures in UK Parliament: Govt says, Indian authorities were 'alerted'

London protest for release of Stan Swamy  By Rajiv Shah Will Father Stan Swamy’s arrest, especially the fact that he is a Christian and a priest, turn out to be major international embarrassment for the Government of India? It may well happen, if a recent debate on a resolution titled “India: Persecution of Minority Groups” in the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament is any indication. While Jesuits have protested Fr Stan's arrest in UK and US, the resolution, adopted in the Parliament, said, “This House has considered the matter of persecution of Muslims, Christians and minority groups in India”.

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).