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Today Date : Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Narendra Modi Govt and Freedom of the Press!

Narendra Modi Govt and Freedom of the Press!

During Prime Minister Modi's tenure as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, there was  Godhra riot. The British BBC released a documentary about this incident a few weeks ago. Union government banned the broadcast of this film. However, in some places, the ban was violated.

It was alleged that the BBC had planned and produced the documentary against the court judgments and was making propaganda against India. Therefore, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court seeking a ban on BBC-India. The Supreme Court refused to accept the petition for hearing and dismissed the petition. Meanwhile, Income Tax officials conducted surprise raids at BBC-India offices in Delhi and Mumbai yesterday.

Many people are protesting against such action of Modi government. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. K. Stalin has strongly condemned. In his Twitter post, he said, “under the present Government led by the present B.J.P Union Government the valuable institutions of the country are functioning unilaterally and have completely lost their independence. 

Those who are responsible for abusing the power given to them by the people and ruining the Indian democracy and media freedom should remember that the people are watching silently and they will be taught a proper lesson in the coming elections,” he said.

Similarly, the Congress party has condemned. Regarding this, party leader Mallikarjuna Kharge said on his Twitter page, 'Press freedom has been repeatedly attacked in the Modi regime. It acts with shameless and unforgivable vengeance to stifle critical voices from afar'. Communist Party of India General Secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted, 'First the BBC. ban on documentaries, no inquiry into Adani corporate malpractices and now Income Tax Department raids in BBC offices. "Is India the Mother of Democracy?" he has questioned.

"These are a continuation of the trend of using government departments to intimidate and harass media that criticize government policies or the ruling establishment," said the Editors Guild of India.
In a statement released by the Press Club of India, it strongly condemned the Income Tax Department's "survey" of BBC offices.

In recent times, the government has viewed the media as hostile towards itself and against the ruling establishment. The survey is part of an ongoing attack on such media outlets, the Journalists' Association of India said.  What is the state of press freedom in India? According to the non-profit group Reporters Without Borders, press freedom has declined since Modi came to power in the centre. India ranks 150 out of 180 countries in the group's World Press Freedom Index. This is 10 places lower than in 2014.

There are many precedents that if the Union Government is criticized, the Enforcement Directorate, CBI, Income Tax Department will swoop-in and conduct investigations. Another example is the raid on the BBC. This, targeting organizations critical of the Union government is not unusual in India and has become a matter of discussion on the global stage. We need to see a change.