Indian media concerns

Published February 27, 2022

EVER SINCE he took off his lapel mike during a controversial tenure as chief minister of Gujarat, and walked away from a grilling TV interview with Indian anchor Karan Thapar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shunned media scrutiny. Mr Thapar wanted to know if the prime minister would consider apologising for the horrific pogroms against Muslims in Gujarat that took place under his watch in 2002. Modi parried the question and stalled further damage with two approaches to keep the media at bay. He has refused to hold a single press conference even though he heads the world’s largest democracy, inflicting his unusually ill-informed ideas on a captive audience through one-way radio monologues. And he unleashed every coercive agency at his command to tame unrelenting critics. Rana Ayyub has been one of the victims, facing the music as a doggedly investigative woman journalist who has challenged the misogynistic march of Hindutva that the prime minister is leading. It is no secret that women journalists have to face a tougher challenge from Hindutva that thrives on sexual innuendos and dire threats of bodily harm.

Ms Ayyub’s daring investigation into the state-backed violence against helpless men and women was published as the ‘Gujarat Files’. Her exposé helped land the current home minister and Mr Modi’s closest aide in jail. She also exposed the murder of a minister in Mr Modi’s cabinet, apparently because he knew too much about how the pogroms were given the green light allegedly by the chief minister himself. A senior police officer that approached the Indian supreme court with evidence corroborating Ms Ayyub’s claim is in jail. Ms Ayyub herself has been accused of misappropriating money she collected for the poorest victims of Covid-19, a charge she has robustly denied. Her struggle is part of a larger fight by an independent media to retrieve the freedoms and spaces stolen in the name of national interest. The Indian government like other autocracies is accused of using Israeli spyware to rein in the media. Several public intellectuals are lodged in prisons, robbed of their rights with the help of the software that doctored their laptops. With the Indian media under assault, foreign journalists and UN bodies have stepped in to help. “Had it not been for the international media, I was left to battle this fight for dignity alone,” says Ms Ayyub. “This is what solidarity and journalism of courage truly means.”

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Energy inflation
Updated 23 May, 2024

Energy inflation

The widening gap between the haves and have-nots is already tearing apart Pakistan’s social fabric.
Culture of violence
23 May, 2024

Culture of violence

WHILE political differences are part of the democratic process, there can be no justification for such disagreements...
Flooding threats
23 May, 2024

Flooding threats

WITH temperatures in GB and KP forecasted to be four to six degrees higher than normal this week, the threat of...
Bulldozed bill
Updated 22 May, 2024

Bulldozed bill

Where once the party was championing the people and their voices, it is now devising new means to silence them.
Out of the abyss
22 May, 2024

Out of the abyss

ENFORCED disappearances remain a persistent blight on fundamental human rights in the country. Recent exchanges...
Holding Israel accountable
22 May, 2024

Holding Israel accountable

ALTHOUGH the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor wants arrest warrants to be issued for Israel’s prime...