By Shaikh Moazam Khan
There is a saying of Johan Hersy: Journalism allows its readers to witness history, fiction give its readers an opportunity to live it.
The balanced or positive reporting has become an unpardonable crime in so called secular India. No one in India is allowed to write anything against the Narendra Modi government and its nationalist officials. Those who write against the Modi government’s policies are being charged under the draconian laws and sedition charges. The Hindutva brigade, led by Hindu extremist like Amit Shah, Yogi Aditityanath and many other BJP’s leaders, is on the move and targeting dissident and liberal voices within the country. They are being labelled as traitor, anti-State elements and terrorists.
When we talk about the Jammu and Kashmir, Entire Kashmir valley is under worst kind of lockdown since August 2019. India has created worst humanitarian catastrophe in the valley over the name of curbing extremism and terrorism. In the backdrop of Indian government’s actions, Indian Media is blindly following the take of Indian government regarding the lockdown in Jammu and Kashmir, while ignoring the facts and ground realities. Indian journalist’s fraternity is shutting their mouth and preferred not to write against the Indian establishment fearing threat to their lives. However, a few Indian writers dared Modi government and Hindu establishment led by Ajit Doval and wrote against the barbaric acts of Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir. Arunditi Roy is one of the most vocal critique of Modi government when it comes to deal with Muslims and people of Jammu and Kashmir. She wrote many articles in an Indian outlet The Print and American outlet New York Times. During her writings, she vehemently exposed Indian barbarism and inhumane treatment of Muslims in India and Jammu and Kashmir.
Any liberal voice against Modi government’s policies is being considered as threat to the Indian national interests under the incumbent Hindutva brigade. Modi government has injected Hindu nationalism in the Indian political landscape. In the existing Indian political landscape, the space for dissidents is shrinking by and large. These acts are purely against the norms and laws of journalism and politics. Luckily, these Indian nationalist designs are not going unnoticed in international community for the first time I would say, Prominent international writers, organizations, states and media watchdogs have opened up debate on the religious and media freedom in India. They are vehemently criticizing Indian government’s treatment when it comes to journalism.
US President Donald Trump ahead of his first official visit to India in February this year press the Indian government to work on religious freedom in the country. Similarly, US State Department also urged Indian government to ensure religious and media freedom in the country after the report incident of mob lynching and religious discrimination against Muslims across the various states of India.
Likewise, European Parliament in March this year condemned the behaviour of Indian government and its acts regarding the protection of Human and Basic Rights especially in Jammu and Kashmir. European MPs wrote many times to PM Modi of India and asked him to ensure the basic rights of people living in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370. The voting on the Indian illegal actions regarding Jammu and Kashmir is still pending before the European parliament.
Recently, Modi government has intensified its crackdown on the dissidents who are factually reporting the incidents in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India. Modi government is terming them as terrorists. European parliament severely criticized Indian government over its acts to forcefully silent dissidents while ignoring media freedom. In a severe indictment of the Modi government, European Parliament has come down heavily on Indian Home Minister Amit Shah over the systematic violation of human rights in India and misuse of anti-terror laws such as the UAPA.
Head of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights Maria Arena wrote a letter to Amit Shah on May 28 in which she expressed her concerns over the arrest of Dalit activists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde in old pending case. The EU MP further wrote that human rights defenders cannot conduct advocacy activities, notably in favour of India’s poorest and most marginalized communities. On the issue of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), she strongly criticized Indian government and called the act of Modi government illegal in which Indian government termed the protestors as terrorists. She demanded, “India should do much more to ensure a safe and conducive environment for civil society working in the country also.”
In the backdrop of increasing anti-Modi content in Western Media by Indian authors, Indian government is planning to introduce draconian laws regarding the journalism. The new laws are likely to consolidate Indian government’s grip on the media houses and freedom. Here, international community and media watchdogs must come out to press Indian government over its authoritarian treatment with journalism. Forcefully shutting the voices of journalists is not in line with the already existing standards of journalism. With these actions of Indian government, journalism is under threat in India. Media watchdogs must have to do something for the freedom of media in India.