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Wednesday, December 02, 2020

‘Harassment’ of journalists: Global press bodies write to PM Modi

“As many as 55 journalists were targeted for covering the pandemic in India between 25 March, when lockdown was first imposed, and 31 May, a report by Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) has shown,” they stated.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: October 22, 2020 7:17:17 am
PM Modi, PM Modi UN speech, PM Modi speech at UN, UN Security Council, UN Security Council India, India UN Security Council member, Express Opinion, Indian ExpressPrime Minister Narendra Modi (DD/PTI Photo)

Two international press associations have written a joint letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urged him to take “immediate steps to ensure that journalists can work without harassment and fear of reprisal”.

In their letter, written on Tuesday, the Austria-headquartered International Press Institute (IPI) and Belgium-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) also asked Modi to “direct the state governments to drop all charges against journalists, including those under the draconian sedition laws, that have been imposed on them for their work”.

“The number of cases filed against journalists have increased enormously after the spread of the pandemic,” the letter stated. The “health crisis [pandemic] is being used as an excuse to silence those who have exposed shortcoming in the government’s response to it… A free media is essential to a successful public health response.”

They wrote, “The use of sedition laws to harass independent, critical journalists is not only a gross violation of the country’s international commitments, it is also an attempt by the government to silence any criticism. Journalistic work cannot be equated to sedition or undermining security.”

“As many as 55 journalists were targeted for covering the pandemic in India between 25 March, when lockdown was first imposed, and 31 May, a report by Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) has shown,” they stated.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued Wednesday, the Editors Guild of India criticised Delhi Police for a “brazen attack…on a journalist [Ahan Penkar] of The Caravan magazine while he was carrying out his duty as a member of the press”.

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