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Muzzling of media: a work in progress

Muzzling of media: a work in progress

Totalitarian regimes have always feared the media and therefore sought to suppress it the most, the reason being that it is because of the media that their anti-people activities, intimidating acts, and conspiracies are brought to the notice of the people. In the world and period ruled by those sabotaging democracy, they will weaken and paralyze the media, the fourth pillar of democracy by arbitrarily burning and abusing its laws, imprisoning the journalists indefinitely, and sometimes even beheading them. It is not easy for them to cook up laws to muzzle the media, in countries ruled by governments that are elected by the people.

It is hindered by the freedom of expression and the fundamental rights equivalent to it which are guaranteed by our Constitution. However, they can abuse the penal code which prevents crime and ensures a free life, by suffocating the media, silencing journalists, and denying them natural justice. No one needs to be convinced that this is what is happening in this country after the Hindutva exponents came to power. This bare truth can be seen in daylight by the world and the country. Every day of the Modi government begins by marking the worst denial of fundamental rights and the destruction of press freedom. The latest incident is the arrest of Mohammad Zubair, co-founder of Alt News, an independent media outlet that released the remarks on BJP national spokesperson Nupur Sharma's blasphemous channel talk that led to Narendra Modi's embarrassment in front of the world. It should be noted that the hate speech of BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, who insulted the holy prophet through a visual channel that can be seen and heard by anyone with eyes and ears, has not yet been accepted as a crime punishable by imprisonment in the eyes of the government. The right-wing leader was temporarily removed from the post of party spokesperson only after protests by governments and other key functionaries in Muslim countries around the world, including in the Gulf countries, led to a collapse that could adversely affect India's political and economic interests.

When it came to filing a case, the government did so by filing a joint case against about 30 other individuals who had nothing to do with the matter. Meanwhile, Mohammad Zubair, who started Alt News in 2017 with Pratik Sinha to uncover the true nature of news that was covered up and misreported by the mainstream media, has now been picked up by the police following a tweet he posted four years ago. Zubair has been arrested by the Delhi Police on charges of inciting religious hatred after a Hanuman 'devotee' complained that the post tweeted by the former mentioned a hotel called Honeymoon before 2014 was a Hanuman hotel after 2014, which hurt his feelings. His colleague Pratik Sinha has however pointed out that this is the case for which the Delhi High court granted protection to Zubair in 2020. It should be noted that this is the time when entities including the United Nations are protesting against the Gujarat police who in the wake of the Supreme Court verdict, imprisoned prominent human rights activist Teesta Setalvad and police officer R.B. Sreekumar for siding with the victims in the infamous Gujarat riots of February 2002. The UN Human Rights Collective and 2250 citizens and secular parties across the country have unanimously spoken out against this blatant violation of human rights. But every move of the Hindutva government is with the conviction that it will not affect them. If the fascist-style is to continue, then Hitler and Mussolini must be role models. Remember how excited Prime Minister Narendra Modi was during his visit to the UAE, which had earlier expressed concern over the blasphemy. It would be better if the extreme right-wing leaders be reminded that the world is watching not only their propaganda, but it is also paying attention to the philanthropists in the world who bring out the truth. Democratic India ranks 150th in the latest Press Freedom list of 'Reporters Without Borders', which publishes an annual list of countries around the globe with media freedom! A total of 180 countries are on the list. Our country has fallen from 142nd to 150th last year. What a fall, countrymen!

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