India Press Freedom Report Shows 6 Journalists Killed, 108 Attacked, 13 Media Houses Targeted In 2021
At least six journalists were killed and over a hundred attacked last year, a report from the Rights & Risks Analysis Group (RRAG), a New Delhi-based think tank, has reported. Of them, eight female journalists faced arrest, summons, and registration of police complaints, the report said.
Showing how dangerous it has become to be a journalist in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s India, where there is nonstop pressure on the press to conform to the government’s Hindu nationalist narrative, the report elaborates that at least 24 journalists were physically attacked, threatened, harassed, and obstructed from reporting by public officials, including police officers. Out of these, 17 were beaten by police. Physical assaults on journalists by police were mainly reported from Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority province, which is currently under brutal occupation from the Indian military.
“The highest number of journalists/media organisations targeted was in Jammu and Kashmir (25), followed by Uttar Pradesh (23); Madhya Pradesh (16); Tripura (15); Delhi (8); Bihar (6); Assam (5); Haryana and Maharashtra (4 each); Goa and Manipur (3 each); Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal (2 each); and Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Kerala (1 each),” states the report.
Press freedoms in Kashmir were a point of concern throughout the report, as journalists face a heightened risk of detention under terror charges.
“The spotlight on the denial of media freedom continued to be on Jammu and Kashmir, where journalists often found themselves summoned to police stations, accused in [police reports], their houses being raided, being manhandled and/or being beaten by the security force,” said the report.
Under Modi and his Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the freedom of the press has sharply declined as hundreds of journalists and media channels have come under direct attack, often for calling out Modi and the BJP for their anti-minority policies and tolerance of genocidal hate speech. As a result, Reporters Without Borders, a global watchdog, ranked India at 142 on the 2021 World Press Freedoms Index, worse than Myanmar and Afghanistan.
At Hate Speech Event, Hindu Extremist Leader Encourages Sexual Violence Against Muslim Women
In yet another Hindu supremacist hate speech event, an unidentified saffron-robed Hindu extremist woman was recorded on video inciting sexual violence against Muslim women, including their rape and kidnapping at the hands of Hindu men. She also spread vitriol about Muslim men, feeding into the “Love Jihad” conspiracy, which is circulated by Hindu supremacists to claim that Muslim men have an agenda to seduce and marry Hindu women to convert them to Islam.
“If any Muslim man laid their eyes on a Hindu girl from today onwards, [Muslim] women will give birth to Hindu children, without a nikah (Muslim marriage) or pheras (Hindu marriage),” she threatened, blatantly encouraging Hindu men to rape Muslim women as “revenge” for even basic encounters between Muslim men and Hindu women.
She also encouraged Hindu extremists to strip Hindu women of their agency to choose their partners and their religion. “If a Hindu girl runs away with Muslim youth, go after her, bring her back,” the extremist leader said. “Thrash the girl and her parents and question them.”
Hindu extremists have grown increasingly bold in their threats of violence against India’s Muslim minority, which includes a disturbing increase in calls for the sexual assault of Muslim women. In the past few months alone, social media platforms like Clubhouse and Reddit, have become awash with lewd messages and rape fantasies about Muslim women, posted by Hindu extremist men and women alike.
Hindu extremists also created two mock auction apps, ‘Bulli Bai’ and ‘Sulli Deals’, which were designed to humiliate vocal Muslim women by “auctioning” them as prostitutes. This online harassment has the potential to have real consequences offline in India, where sexual assault is already a rampant problem nationwide.
Hindu Extremist Leader Says Hijabi Muslim Students Have Terrorist Mindset
As Hindu extremists nationwide rage on against a group of Muslim students in Karnataka who are determined to continue wearing their hijabs to their college in Karnataka state despite an unconstitutional hijab ban, Pramod Muthalikpramo, chief of the Hindu supremacist group Shri Ram Sena, has made headlines for his outrageous and bigoted remarks against the students, which included accusing them of having a “terrorist mindset” for wearing hijab.
“[This] stubborn mindset on wearing a hijab to the classroom will take students to terrorism,” he said. “Now, they start with the hijab, later they ask for burqa and afterwards they will demand [prayer] and mosque… Are you making India [into] Pakistan or Afghanistan? If you demand a burqa or a hijab you can go to Pakistan.”
Meanwhile, male extremist students at a different college have begun wearing saffron scarves in an attempt to protest the Muslim students. Saffron scarves and flags are commonly used as a symbol of Hindu supremacy, and yet there is little to no backlash against these Hindu students for wearing their religious garments.
The Muslim students’ parents have protested these double standards, pointing out that they have never discriminated against school expressions of Hindu faith.
“Our children have attended college during all Hindu festivals be it Onam or Holi. Everybody came to college on those days. Nobody remained absent. When it comes to Hijab it is mandatory. We have to do it,” said one parent.
“They are students; why are you dragging them into this? Don’t discriminate between them. They come here to study,” said another parent.Despite the students’ and parents’ protests, a video has surfaced showing school administrators refusing to let the hijab-wearing girls onto the college grounds. In the video, the girls can be seen pleading with a faculty member not to ruin their futures as he closes the school gates in their faces. This discrimination against women for choosing to wear the hijab is in direct violation of the Indian constitution, which mandates secularism, pluralism, and freedom of worship for all Indians.