The Congress on Monday accused the central government of “muzzling dissent” and adopting an “ostrich-like approach” by “prosecuting” the newspaper and the journalist who exposed the alleged Aadhaar data breach. Dubbing it as “a clear attack on journalism”, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari alleged that there have been systematic assaults on scribes and an atmosphere of fear and violence has been created against them.
He asked the people need to introspect whether they want a liberal, democratic India or a theocratic and fascist country.
Media organisations have been systematically hounded and targeted, he alleged and demanded that the FIR “against ‘The Tribune’ and the journalist” be withdrawn “if the government believes in the freedom of press.”
“The newspaper which warns the government that the privacy and the private data of thousands of citizens are at risk is rewarded with an FIR which names the journalist as well as the institution itself,” Tewari told reporters.
“If this is not fascism, if this is not trying to muzzle dissent, if this is not gross abuse of state authority, then I am afraid, we possibly do not have a definition for it….
“That is why time has come for all progressive, right thinking and patriotic forces to stand united against this systematic repression which has been unleashed on democratic dissent by the Narendra Modi Government,” he said.
The Congress spokesperson said the first people who sensed such an atmosphere were the creative community which as early as September 2014 launched which was called by some as the “Award Wapsi Movement”.
“Our appeal to the people of India at the beginning of 2018 from this podium is that please do make a choice you want a liberal or democratic India or do you want a theocratic and fascist India. That is the choice that you need to make,” he said.
When pointed out that a minister had said that the FIR is against unknown people, Tewari said it seems the minister has not read the FIR or his reading of the FIR is “extremely selective as he chose to skip the names.”
“To the best of our understanding not only journalists are named, but the Tribune as an institution has been named in the FIR.
“So, not only is that an attack on individual journalists, it is an attack on the institution per se… this is a clear attack on journalism.
“If the Minister is not shedding crocodile tears … true test of that is that the FIR must be unilaterally withdrawn by the UIDAI,” he said.
Attacking the government, the Congress said on its website: “The prosecution of a reporter for exposing security flaws in the Aadhaar infrastructure by UIDAI is an ostrich-like approach.”