By Stanley Kwabla Arku
In a strongly-worded statement, the international organization Socialist Movement Ghana (SMG) expressed outrage over the ongoing suppression of criticism and press freedom by the Hindu Nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) Government in India. The statement highlighted the recent incident on October 2, 2023, where hundreds of police officers raided over 100 offices and homes, confiscating mobile phones and laptops of Indian media practitioners.
The targeted individuals were associated with the “Newsclick” website and Tri-Continental Research Services, both left-wing organizations known for their high-quality reporting and analysis of Indian and global affairs. Among those arrested were prominent figures like Prabir Purkayastha, the founder of Newsclick, and Amit Chakravarty, the Head of Human Resources. Notably, both individuals had previously experienced similar violations by the Indian State in 2021 but had maintained their freedom under the protection of Indian judicial rulings.
To circumvent judicial interference, the Modi government is now investigating these individuals under the “Unlawful Activities Prevention Act” (UAPA), a controversial legislation that the government believes allows for repression without judicial review in the name of national security. This crackdown on media freedoms is part of a broader trend observed in right-wing led countries around the world. The UAPA legislation has been used by Prime Minister Modi’s government to silence and harass thousands of critics, as even acknowledged by The New York Times.
The specific allegation against the media personnel appears to be their involvement in a supposed China-based conspiracy against the Indian State. However, SMG argues that the true motive behind these arrests is to silence the exposure of the BJP’s unpopular policies and the totalitarian agenda associated with them.
SMG has joined forces with the growing Indian and international movement calling for the immediate release of the arrested individuals and the restoration of constitutional rights for media practitioners in India. The organization urges journalists and activists worldwide to condemn this attack on freedom of conscience and expression, and to take popular actions to hold the Modi government accountable. Additionally, SMG calls for the international community to closely monitor the well-being of those currently in custody, holding the government responsible for any physical or psychological harm inflicted upon them.
As media repression and unlawful attacks persist in India, the global community’s solidarity and support are crucial in safeguarding press freedom and upholding democratic values.