International Press Institute calls on Blinken to raise press freedom during India visit

A global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, the International Press Institute (IPI), on Tuesday called on United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to raise the issue of press freedom with Indian leaders during bilateral meetings.

The IPI wrote to Mr. Blinken, who is visiting India this week, to bring to his notice “the stifling press freedom environment in which independent media is operating in India, amidst threats and legal harassment by the government at the Centre and in the States ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party”.

The IPI letter noted that 18 attacks on journalists, eight arrests and 20 cases of “legal harassment” of journalists had been recorded by the IPI so far this year.

“The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has displayed complete intolerance to criticism and resorted to legal harassment to punish those journalists and media organisations who are critical of its policies and speak truth to power…The recent revelations that some 40 journalists were targeted with the Pegasus spyware shows the extent to which the government has gone to invade the professional and private lives of journalists in order to stifle press freedom and human rights in the country,” the letter stated.

The IPI also highlighted the raids by the Income Tax department on the offices of Dainik Bhaskar.

“The newspaper has extensively covered the impact of the health crisis and published photos of dead bodies floating in the river, which offended the government. We, therefore, urge you to raise the issue of press freedom during your bilateral meetings with Indian leaders,” the letter signed by IPI executive director Barbara Trionfi said.

The IPI also said it would be grateful for a public statement by Mr. Blinken expressing concern over the condition of press freedom in India.

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