MY KOLKATA EDUGRAPH
ADVERTISEMENT
regular-article-logo Tuesday, 25 June 2024

Another blow: Editorial on police raids perpetrated on NewsClick and press freedom under PM Modi

India’s media space is divided; the divisions are the result of competition and differences in political fidelities. It must unite, if only for a while, to assess the depths of the crisis

The Editorial Board Published 05.10.23, 06:05 AM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi File Photo

Narendra Modi’s ‘unwavering support’ for the freedom of the press has, over the years, acquired the McCarthian dimensions of repression and persecution. This has been proved, once again, by the police raids perpetrated on NewsClick, an online news portal, which has been known to be critical of Mr Modi’s regime. The draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act has been unleashed — for the first time — against a media outlet, its editor-in-chief arrested in a terror case, and several associated journalists interrogated on the suspicion that the portal received Chinese funds and ran a campaign against the nation. The charges should be examined neutrally in a court of law. But the attempt to malign the organisation — in effect, the tiny media fraternity pursuing independent news — even before the accusations have been proved in court is yet another instance of Mr Modi’s government exercising unbridled authoritarianism. An attendant issue that must not be neglected is the police’s confiscation of mobile phones and laptops of the employees and contributors: there are allegations that due process was not followed during these seizures. The violation of procedure and privacy is not the only concern here. The police had allegedly planted hostile evidence in a laptop in the Bhima-Koregaon case that witnessed the incarceration of several activists and intellectuals. In fact, there is a case to examine and plug the loopholes that exist in law that permit investigators to use — exploit — electronic evidence indiscriminately.

Each assault on the media is followed by a familiar — dispiriting — script. Journalists, activists and students organise protests; members of the Opposition make noises; reams are written about India’s precipitous fall on the press freedom index under Mr Modi — till the next raid takes place on another media organisation. It is time for a concerted effort to project the threat to the Indian media as a collective threat. There must be a public campaign to raise awareness that the weakening and the corresponding transformation of the media into cheerleaders of the regime have serious repercussions for the rights of both the nation and its citizens. India’s media space is divided; the divisions are the result of competition and differences in political fidelities. It must unite, if only for a while, to assess the depths of the crisis. For the crisis is existential in nature.

Follow us on:
ADVERTISEMENT