India’s Attack on Free Press: Government Raids News Outlet, Journalists Speak Out

When it comes to tiffs between the government and media outlets, the United States has nothing on India. A raid on one of the country’s most liberal and critical news sites has free-speech advocates crying foul. Here is the full story.

Fighting for Justice

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NewsClick is an English-language news outlet in India that has focused on stories of social injustice since its founding in 2009.

Modi Is a Target

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In recent years, NewsClick has been especially critical of the Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who came to power in 2014.

Attacking His Attackers

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Modi and his administration have fought back by accusing the news organization of various financial indiscretions over the years.

It mostly comes off as an attempt to discredit the PM’s detractors.

Turn up the Volume

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But in August of 2023, the government took their campaign against NewsClick up several notches.

A Communist Plaything

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That’s when the administration claimed that NewsClick had received funding from a Chinese supporter and was, in effect, a “mouthpiece for the Communist Party of China.”

They Obey the Laws

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For their part, NewsClick denies any such affiliation and says it has always obeyed the laws of India.

Under a Microscope

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That didn’t get the news organization off the hook, though, and Modi’s government apparently continued its investigation into the fall.

No One Was Safe

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Then, in early October, Indian police raided the homes of 46 journalists, contributors, and even family members associated with NewsClick.

They Took Everything

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Among the items confiscated were cell phones, laptop computers, DVDs, and physical documents.

Nothing Less Than the Truth

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And it wasn’t just physical and electronic evidence authorities were looking for, either.

They wanted to get the truth from the people involved.

Wanted for Questioning

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According to satirist Sanjay Rajoura, police raided his home at about 6:30 am.

After they grabbed the items they wanted, they grabbed the man himself and took him in for questioning.

The Long Tentacles of the Law

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Hardly anyone seemed off-limits when it came to being swept up in the raid.

Even a tenuous connection to NewsClick was enough to snarl some people in the government’s trap.

He Was an Outsider

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That was the case for historian Sohail Hashmi, who never contributed directly to NewsClick.

Friends in Low Places

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Hashmi’s crime, it seems, was being interviewed on a couple of videos the news outlet aired, and also having some friends who work at NewsClick.

A Distraction Tactic

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Some of Modi’s political opponents have said that they think the raids were nothing more than diversionary tactics to distract the public from more pressing matters.

A Darker Agenda

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Others think there is a broader, darker agenda at play, and they want to shine a light on it.

Opponents Aren’t Buying It

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INDIA, a coalition of political parties who oppose Modi’s government, issued a statement that said the prime minister was attempting to “convert the media into a mouthpiece for its partisan and ideological interests.” 

A Repeat Offender

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This isn’t the first time Modi has issued “raid” orders against media outlets. 

Criticize at Your Own Risk

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Back in February of 2023, for example, Indian authorities carried out a similar raid on BBC journalists after the airing of a documentary that criticized Modi.

The Tax Man Cometh

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And when Dainik Bhaskar, a Hindi-language newspaper, was critical of the administration’s handling of the pandemic in 2021, their offices were raided by tax authorities.

An Unsettling Pattern

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It all adds up to a pattern of retaliation against free speech that makes observers wonder if Modi and his government are trying to build their own impenetrable iron curtain.

The post India’s Attack on Free Press: Government Raids News Outlet, Journalists Speak Out first appeared on Mama Say What?!

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / photocosmos1. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.

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