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

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

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.

Gujarat link of controversial US doctor who 'forced' WHO quiz Trump's wonder drug

By Rajiv Shah
A top American doctor, Sapan Sharankishor Desai, born and raised in the “affluent” North Shore (Chicago) region of Illinois by Indian parents, at one point of time involved in NGO activity through  dedicated to “improving” the lives of the impoverished in Gujarat, is in the eyes of a major international storm following his paper (retracted) in a “Lancet” questioning Donald Trump-promoted drug hydroxychloroquine.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.