Skip to main content

Step against journalist Aatish Taseer part of Indian, global trend to 'harass' writers

By Our Representative
A New York-based free expression advocacy non-profit, PEN America, has taken strong exception to what it calls “India’s government is retaliating against journalist Aatish Taseer’s reporting critical of the country’s Prime Minister". Taseer has been told by an email from the Consulate General of India in New York that the Government of India had cancelled his Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI card) with “effective immediately.”
Calling it “retaliation for a ‘Time’ magazine article critical of the Indian government”, journalist and writer Taseer was earlier threatened with revocation of the key citizenship document that would limit his ability to work and live in India. In a statement, PEN America said it was a “worrying move by the government to punish a reporter for coverage critical of Narendra Modi.”
In May, amidst a contentious Indian election season, Taseer had penned a cover story profiling Modi for "Time" headlined “India’s Divider in Chief.” The story “drew online harassment and an official complaint from India’s consul general to ‘Time’ magazine”, PEN said, adding, “In September, he received notice that the Indian government intended to revoke his OCI) documentation.”
That status allows foreign citizens of Indian heritage to live and work in India indefinitely – Taseer was born to an Indian mother, well-known journalist Tavleen Singh and Pakistani politician and businessman Salmaan Taseer, assassinated at the Kohsar Market in Islamabad because he disagreed with Taseer's opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy law. Aatish Taseer, 38, was born in Britain and has divided his time between New York and New Delhi.
PEN said, “Once granted, the OCI card can only be cancelled under limited circumstances whose narrow criteria have not been met in this case. If an individual’s card is canceled, they can also be placed on a blacklist preventing their future entry into India. Taseer responded to the notice but never received an official reply from the Home Ministry.”
Murders of leading thinkers and writers Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar, MM Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh have yet to be fully investigated
“However, PEN said, “On November 7, the Ministry announced in a series of tweets that Taseer had hidden information about his late father’s nationality and had failed to challenge their notice; Taseer disputes both claims.” Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of Free Expression at Risk Programmes at PEN America commented, “Harassing critical writers and journalists not just in India but globally is a disturbing new low for Modi’s government that’s already put Indian democracy on its heels.” 
Karlekar added, “Revoking Aatish Taseer’s citizenship document – which would in effect also ban him from visiting his childhood home and seeing his mother and grandmother – is a cruelly personal and vindictive way to punish a journalist for their critical coverage. We call on the Indian government to cease their judicial harassment of Taseer immediately and allow him to keep his OCI card.” 
PEN continued, “Threats to free expression and political dissent in India have been building steadily in recent years. As noted in PEN International’s 2016 report ‘Fearful Silence: The Chill on India’s Public Sphere’, the environment for free expression has deteriorated under the present government, with authorities regularly using legal cases and other regulatory mechanisms to curb dissenting views.’
The top NGO underlined, “Those who advocate for human rights or express unorthodox viewpoints are sometimes subject to arrest, prosecution, and other forms of legal intimidation, and recent cases of murders of leading journalists, thinkers, and writers, such as Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar, MM Kalburgi, and Gauri Lankesh, have yet to be fully investigated or prosecuted.”

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.