Why is Indian media being sold

Peasant protests in IndiaGovernment uses colonial law against journalists

On Republic Day in India, a national holiday on January 26th, which is celebrated every year with a large military parade in the capital, the protests of Indian farmers against the agrarian reform escalated into violent riots. The farmers overran all road blockades with their tractors and even stormed the Red Fort on the outskirts of Old Delhi, one of the most famous landmarks of the capital, as shown on footage from Reuters news agency. Police used batons and fired tear gas cartridges into the crowd.

At least six Indian journalists covering the violence and chaos on Republic Day have now been charged on charges of sedition and sedition against the state. The Press Club of India, along with other journalists 'and media workers' organizations, protested and promptly called for the charges to be dropped. Otherwise, freedom of the press in India is in grave danger, it said.

Farmer was killed by tractor

The state is using the so-called Sedition Law, an anti-riot law that dates back to 1860, to silence critical journalists, complained Seema Mustafa, president of the Editor's Guild of India, in a video conference of the press club in Delhi. While reporting on the violent protests by Indian farmers, the journalists concerned had disseminated information in their media and on social networks that later turned out to be false.

(Sumit Sanyal / SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire / dpa)Why Indian farmers have been protesting for months
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Specifically, it was about the death of one of the protesting farmers. According to initial information, the man is said to have been shot dead, later it turned out that he had apparently been killed by an overturned tractor. The journalists had also reported on the shots as the cause of death, citing eyewitnesses. Prosecutors in several Indian states therefore accuse them of fueling protests against the government.

Journalists' associations are calling for the Sedition Law to be abolished

The so-called Sedition Law, as Article 124A of the Indian Penal Code is called, dates back to the British colonial era and was intended to keep the Indian independence movement in check. Mahatma Gandhi was also imprisoned under this law in 1922 for calling for resistance.

This law should long ago be abolished, demanded Rajdeep Sardesai, one of the journalists now accused. According to the well-known TV broadcaster India Today, this law should not be used against journalists, especially in conflict regions such as Manipur or Kashmir. Media professionals in all states, for or against the government, should agree that the riot law should not be brought against journalists.

Editor-in-chief: Government wants to intimidate journalists

An atmosphere of fear is spreading among critical journalists, complained Seema Mustafa, who is also editor-in-chief of the political magazine "The Citizen": "All of this only happens to stir up doubt and uncertainty among journalists and to spread fear. And to the editors and editors-in-chief to force reluctance to report on certain things at all. In principle, the message of this law to all journalists is: Shut up! "

The controversial Sedition Law has also been used frequently in the past, for example against journalists who reported on the protests against the citizenship law and made critical voices heard by Indian Muslims. All calls from Indian and international press associations to abolish the law have so far been unsuccessful.