MEDIA BASHING

I HAVE been aware that the Modi government is hostile to journalists who do not share their ideology. I have been aware that many senior journalists have been harassed and persecuted by the saffron brigade. Among the most high profile Goan victims is Rajdeep Sardessai who was forced out of CNN-18, the television news channel he started. Another was veteran Shekhar Gupta of the Indian Express.

The harassment of journalists and TV anchors has increased since the surgical attack on militant camps in Pakistan. Not only has Pakistan been denying India’s assertion that according to defence minister Manohar Parrikar, India had slapped Pakistan five times but even the United Nations has swallowed Pakistani propaganda.

In this context, many senior leaders have been demanding that India counter Pakistan with some proof of the surgical strikes. There have also been charges that the BJP is exploiting the air strikes which were not only justified but long overdue for political gains in the Uttar Pradesh elections.

It is bad enough that Parrikar is comparing the Indian army to Hanuman who liberated Sita from the clutches of Ravana. Parrikar’s ‘manoharnama’ has been endorsed by Modi himself who asked why we can’t save Sita in our own homes. He was obviously referring to the pre-emptive strikes against terrorists in Pakistan.

If he was really interested in the modern Sita, he would do something about the safety of women. Every hour there is a rape in India. And our Sitas are not safe even from our police or the army.  

The real shock was the hate post against Barkha Dutt who has been trying her best to hold back the fanatic hounds of war – people who want India to nuke Pakistan, not realising, as Modi put it, our war is against the government and generals of the Pakistan and not against the people of Pakistan. There are Facebook posts which accuse Dutt of being a Pakistani terrorist, claim she has Pakistani boyfriends, show Rajdeep and other journalists behind bars.

The social network can be a wonderful place but it is obviously being misused to spread hate. The Sangh Parivar have become experts at misusing social media to target those who do not agree with their fundamentalist views. The problem is unlike regular media, there is no editor to ensure that hate is not spread. While newspapers can be taken to court and their registration cancelled, there is no accountability on social media.

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