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In RS, Sena MP questions govt over press freedom, cites GoM report; NCP MP says criminalise marital rape

Among the several suggestions that the GoM report mentioned included a strategy to “neutralise” those who set “false narratives” against the government, roping in “right-wing parties” from other countries to seek “common ground”, and alleged “colour coding” of journalists.

Written by Krishn Kaushik | New Delhi |
March 16, 2021 1:22:42 am
Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi. (Source: RSTV)

Raising the issue of press freedom during the Zero Hour in Rajya Sabha, Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi Monday questioned the government for discriminating between media houses, pointing to a report of the Group of Ministers constituted last year to look into “government communication”.

Chaturvedi said that in mid-2020, “as per the reports that have come in the newspapers, a GoM was formed when nine ministers were asked to come forward with suggestions on how to neutralise some media agencies which were speaking up against the government, not against the nation but against the government, and how to neutralise them and how to promote those agencies which are talking pro-government”.

The Shiv Sena MP asked, “How can we discriminate in a democracy between those agencies which speak up for the cause of the people of the country and speak against the government and question them”, and if this didn’t “go against the freedom of speech as well as press freedom that has been consistently sliding down as far as India is concerned.”

Among the several suggestions that the GoM report mentioned included a strategy to “neutralise” those who set “false narratives” against the government, roping in “right-wing parties” from other countries to seek “common ground”, and alleged “colour coding” of journalists.

Meanwhile, another Maharashtra MP, Vandana Chavan of the NCP, highlighted the issue of marital rape in the country, and stated that the “government’s argument on several platforms is that criminalising marital rape destabilises the institution of marriage or would be a tool for the wives to harass their husbands” and called it “absolutely not palatable”.

Chavan said that there was a “need to criminalise marital rape” and stated that “since decades now, there have been demands from several quarters, several women’s organisations, groups asking that marital rape has to be made a criminal offence”. She mentioned that after the lockdown last year, especially, “we have seen that these instances have increased, and, in fact, the seriousness also amplified to a great extent”. Chavan said that India is a signatory to Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women “which seeks to eliminate any form of violence against women”. “The CEDAW also in 2013 has expressly recommended that the Indian government should criminalise marital rape” and the Justice Verma Committee, formed after the 2012 Delhi gang rape, also suggested the same, she said.

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