Modi Regime Destroying Indian Free Press, According to New Reporters Without Borders Report
For the fourth consecutive year, India fell sharply in the Global Press Freedom rankings report released annually by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders. Dropping 11 positions to occupy 161st place in a list of 180 countries, India now stands behind outright authoritarian regimes in Afghanistan, Libya, and the United Arab Emirates — and a mere 19 spots above the dictatorship of North Korea.
The report directly attributes India’s drastic declines to Modi’s ascension and his allies’ buyout of the majority of the Indian press, resulting in a politically-engineered monopoly on information. The resulting conditions have resulted in Hindu, upper-caste, male domination of the press, the propagation of Islamophobic conspiracy theories (including that Muslims were responsible for COVID-19), the censorship of voices critical of the Modi regime, and the shuttering of once-independent outlets.
“Supporters of Hindutva, the ideology that spawned the Hindu far right, wage all-out online attacks on any views that conflict with their thinking. Terrifying coordinated campaigns of hatred and calls for murder are conducted on social media, campaigns that are often even more violent when they target women journalists, whose personal data may be posted online as an additional incitement to violence,” the report states.
Karnataka Muslim Student Assaulted with Iron Rod for Speaking to Female Hindu Friend
In Karnataka, four Hindu nationalist workers attacked Muslim Student Mohammad Parish with a hot iron rod, punishing him for talking to a female Hindu friend. He was hospitalized afterwards with severe injuries.
The attack falls into a broader pattern of violent, in some cases lethal, attacks on Muslim men by Hindu nationalist groups in order to stop interfaith relationships.
Known as “Moral Policing”, the attacks are often inflamed by the “Love Jihad” conspiracy, or the Hindu extremist propaganda claim that Muslim men have an agenda to seduce and convert Hindu women.
Muslim men across India have been the target of violent mob attacks for doing as little as speaking to a Hindu woman. In January of last year, a Muslim man, Arbaaz Aftab Mullah, was beheaded by Hindu nationalist extremists for allegedly falling in love with a Hindu woman.
Indian Government Lashes Out Against Findings of US Religious Freedom Commision
The Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Indian Government continued to deny overwhelming evidence of its persecution of religious minorities, lashing out at the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for the findings of its 2023 report.
For the fourth consecutive year USCIRF issued its strongest condemnation to India for its violations of religious freedom, calling on the state department to make India a Country of Particular Concern.
Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi alleged that USCIRF misrepresented facts the Commission continues to “misrepresent facts” and “regurgitate biased and motivated comments about India.” USCIRF’s report summarizes well established patterns of persecution verified by numerous independent Human Rights observers.
The Indian government’s denial of USCIRF’s findings are a new instance of the denialism that has come to characterize the Modi regime.