In today’s India there is very little room for dissent or different point of view. That India has regressed immensely ever since Narendra Modi came to power following his party’s (BJP’s) big triumph in the 2014 general elections is a fact.
In a latest development that has badly shaken India’s so-called secular and democratic credentials, the BJP government has blocked the airing of a BBC documentary which has questioned Modi’s leadership as Chief Minister during the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat state. According to the BJP-RSS combine, even sharing of any clips via social media has been barred.
A senior government official, for example, has been quoted by media as saying that directions to block the clips from being shared have been issued using emergency powers available to the government under the country’s information technology rules.
This step clearly illustrates government’s highly condemnable approach to freedom of press or expression. It was only last year that as many as 10 human rights organisations on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day pointed out that Indian authorities are increasingly targeting journalists and online critics for their criticism of government policies and practices.
Many of those arrested have been prosecuted under counterterrorism and sedition laws. Foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, therefore, deserves a lot of praise for reminding the world community during a presser in New York last month that “Osama bin Laden is dead, but the butcher of Gujarat is still alive”.
Tehsin Khan (Peshawar)
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023