Rana Ayyub in Washington Post op-ed wonders what the PM meant at the G-7 summit

In an opinion piece published in Washington Post on Tuesday, well known journalist Rana Ayyub writes she would have liked to ask the Indian Prime Minister if journalism is now a crime

Rana Ayyub in Washington Post op-ed wonders what the PM meant at the G-7 summit

NH Web Desk

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s affirmation at a virtual meeting of the G-7 leaders earlier this month about India’s deep commitment to democracy and freedom of expression being part of India’s ‘civilisational ethos’, journalist Rana Ayyub wondered why she is then being hounded for a tweet.

The same tweet had been shared by several public personalities as well as media outlets. But while Ayyub has secured temporary bail for four weeks, she wonders if she too would be jailed like several other journalists including Siddiq Kappan, whose apparent crime was to try and report on the rape and murder of a Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh.

Her tweet dealt with the assault on an elderly Muslim who complained that he was forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’, was abused and his beard was cut. Uttar Pradesh Police targeted Ayyub and two other Muslim journalists along with media outlets and maintained that the attack was not motivated by religion but the tweet had sought to create enmity between people.

Explaining that she has been a vocal critic of the government, she writes:

“I had a cover story in Time magazine in April about the devastation caused by the second wave. That led to appearances on international outlets — which then resulted in a vindictive backlash accusing me of defaming India on a global scale. On Times Now, one of India’s leading news channels, Mohandas Pai, a prominent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporter, labeled my reportage as “vulture journalism.” Social media attacks followed. Right-wing nationalists called my fundraiser campaign on Ketto, a charity website — which helped 70,000 families affected by covid-19 last year — an attempt to raise funds only for Muslims in the country.

Recounting her horror story, she added, “Incidentally, the same day I was booked for my tweets by the Uttar Pradesh police, I received summons from multiple central government agencies asking me to respond within a week. When I read the summons to my lawyer, Vrinda Grover, she asked if I was surprised. One of the summons asked me to identify those who benefited from my relief work.”

Accusing the Government of painting legitimate journalists as public enemies and putting them at risk, Ayyub goes on to say, “These are not the only ways I am being harassed. Ultra-right-wing publications that have massive followings on social media and owe allegiance to the government have dedicated most of their resources in the last three weeks to running a concerted fake news campaign against me to discredit my reputation as a journalist. It is all absurd, but also dangerous.”

A talk she had with students at the Harvard Political Review was described by a right-wing propaganda publication as a means of extending Chinese propaganda, she points out.

Here is the link to the opinion piece:


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