Journalists and cartoonists critical of the government are being targeted and the media is facing increasing pressure from Central and state governments, the Editors Guild of India said on Monday, 14 June, pointing out that "all of this is contrary to the commitments that Prime Minister Narendra Modi made at the G-7 summit to democracy, openness and against authoritarianism."
PM Modi, speaking at the G7 summit on Sunday, had emphasised on the need to ensure that cyberspace remains an avenue for advancing democratic values and not of subverting them.
The Prime Minister participated virtually in two of the sessions held on the second day of the summit – ‘Building Back Together – Open Societies and Economies’ and ‘Building Back Greener: Climate and Nature’.
Guild Slams ‘Cavalier Manner’ of UP Police
In its statement, the guild expressed shock by the "cavalier manner" in which the Uttar Pradesh Police is treating the mysterious death of TV journalist Sulabh Srivastava in Pratapgarh.
A day after seeking police protection, the ABP journalist died under suspicious circumstances on Sunday. The Pratapgarh Police later filed an FIR against unknown persons in the case, news agency ANI reported.
"The authorities paid no heed to his fears... The police is passing off his death as being caused by an accident, claiming that his bike rammed into a handpump," the guild said.
"“His death comes at a time when media is facing increasing pressures from central and state governments who insist that they follow the official narrative regarding the administration’s handling of the pandemic. What is further worrying is that the police and the local authorities liberally and unjustifiably use laws such as sedition and UAPA to file charges and arrest journalists.”" - Editors Guild of India‘Journalists, Cartoonists Being Targeted’
"Journalists and cartoonists critical of the government are also being targeted on social media, as pressures are being mounted by the government on these platforms to remove such critical journalists on the specious ground that they are violating the law of the land. All of this is contrary to the commitments that Prime Minister Narendra Modi made at the G-7 summit to democracy, openness and against authoritarianism," the body went on to say.
Its reference to cartoonists came in the backdrop of cartoonist Manjul receiving a notice from Twitter, stating that it had received a legal request from Indian law enforcement to take action against his social media account.
Manjul was intimated by Twitter on 4 June, following which he shared the e-mail he had received from the company with the caption, “Jai ho Modi Ji ki sarkar ki!” He had also said it would have been better if the government mentioned, which tweet of his had caused a problem.
Though the government had alleged that one of Manjul’s tweets “violates the law(s) of India”, the social media giant had mentioned that they had not taken any action against him for the time being and suggested that the cartoonist seek legal counsel and challenge the government’s request in court, or contact civil society organisations for finding a resolution or voluntarily delete the content.
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