Sun. Apr 11th, 2021

Indian journalist speaks out in opposition to threats for reporting on protests

New Delhi — Indian journalist Barkha Dutt is talking out in opposition to intimidation and dying threats she and different journalists have confronted whereas reporting on the months-long protests by farmers — one of many greatest crises being confronted by the nation’s prime minister, Narendra Modi.

The dying threats “characterize a bigger setting of media intimidation that is a really actual a part of our lives as functioning journalists in India at the moment,” Dutt mentioned on CBSN.

Dutt and eight different journalists had been accused of being a part of an “anti-India conspiracy” in a YouTube video that additionally known as for his or her “hanging.” The net platform took down the video final month, however not earlier than it had reached half one million viewers. 

Dutt, the founding father of Mojo Story, mentioned it was a “wrestle” to get the video taken offline from a number of platforms and it nonetheless pops up in on-line searches. 

“What’s worse is that 4 political leaders who’re affiliated with the ruling celebration, the BJP, really supported the video. And that is once we understood that this can’t be taken evenly and it can’t be ignored,” she mentioned.

The Indian police haven’t taken motion in opposition to the content material creator who posted the dying menace video, which was additionally debunked by a fact-checking platform as “riddled with deceptive claims.” 

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Final 12 months, 67 Indian journalists had been arrested, detained, or questioned by authorities whereas on the job. India has slipped two locations on the World Press Freedom Index: it ranked 142 in 2020, down from 140 the earlier 12 months. 

This 12 months, 5 journalists had been arrested by the Indian police — the very best of any 12 months up to now three many years. A number of journalists confronted sedition and different prison circumstances for reporting on the protests by farmers, particularly after they turned violent on January 26, India’s Republic Day.

India Republic Day

Sikh farmers wave a Sikh non secular flag as they arrive on the historic Pink Fort monument in New Delhi on January 26, 2021.

Dinesh Joshi/AP

“We’re a really practical, argumentative democracy, we’ve a really sturdy historical past of elections and peaceable switch of energy, so it does not appear to be, as if our freedoms are diminishing. What occurs between elections generally tells rather a lot concerning the well being of our democracy. And what we discover more and more as journalists is that if you happen to maintain energy to account, it is a type of diminishing area for that,” Dutt mentioned.

Final month, the Indian police additionally arrested environmental activist Disha Ravi after serving to Greta Thunberg with a web-based “toolkit” that urged methods to assist the protesting farmers. Ravi was charged with sedition and conspiracy to incite violence and police known as her a “key conspirator” behind the doc. She posted bail after spending 10 days in jail. 

Thunberg and singer Rihanna had been amongst dozens of celebrities who spoke in favor of the protesters, who’ve been demonstrating in opposition to Modi’s agricultural reforms for greater than three months.

“There are lots of alternative ways of silencing folks and amongst them are principally getting journalists drawn right into a vortex of circumstances,” Dutt mentioned. 

“One thing is going on right here. Principally, what that one thing is is telling journalists: fall in line, in any other case we are going to harass you, and we are going to always make you look over your shoulder earlier than you criticize us the following time.”

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