IAMC condemns PM Modi’s latest crackdown on free press, detention of journalists
Washington, D.C. (October 3, 2023) – The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), the largest advocacy organization of diaspora Indian Muslims, has strongly condemned the Indian government’s blatant assault on freedom of press by raiding the office of news portal NewsClick, searching the homes of over a dozen journalists including junior employees and contributors, seizing laptops and phones, and detaining around ten journalists. NewsClick’s founder and editor-in-chief, Prabir Purkayastha, and journalist Amit Chakravarty were arrested under India’s draconian anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The news portal has been widely recognized for its relentless coverage of India’s vulnerable and marginalized communities, including its courageous reporting on human rights abuses perpetrated by the far-right government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his supporters.
The raids occurred after the Delhi Police Special Cell lodged a case against NewsClick under the UAPA, following a New York Times report that alleged that the media company had received funding from an American millionaire involved in the spread of “Chinese propaganda.”
However, four prominent Indian media bodies – the Press Club of India, the Indian Women’s Press Corps, the Delhi Union of Journalists, and Press Association – have slammed these allegations as “unwarranted and condemnable,” and comparing the hypocritical scrutiny into NewsClick’s funds to a “witch-hunt.”
“For years, NewsClick and other independent media outlets have centered the truth while the corporate-run mainstream media has become a bullhorn for pro-Modi and anti-Muslim propaganda,” said IAMC Executive Director Rasheed Ahmed. “In that sense, it is no surprise that the Indian government has leaped on this excuse to frighten and punish innocent journalists and writers amid an ongoing crackdown on free speech in the country.”
“Too many Indian and Kashmiri journalists have faced prolonged detention and profound human rights abuses after being charged under the draconian UAPA,” IAMC President Mohammed Jawad said. “It is long past time for the international community to take a stand against India’s treatment of journalists as terrorists.”
IAMC calls upon the Modi government to immediately drop the baseless case against NewsClick and release both Purkayastha and Chakravarty. Furthermore, IAMC urges the international community, particularly the Biden administration, as a strategic partner to India, to publicly denounce the Modi regime’s assault on freedom of speech and the press. We must stand together to safeguard these fundamental pillars of democracy and human rights.