Journalist’s death creates furor across India

New Delhi, June 15 (KMS):  Journalists and cartoonists are being targeted in India, contrary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s global stance on free speech and fostering democratic values in cyberspace, the Editors Guild of India said.

According to Kashmir Media Service, the government itself heaps pressure on these professionals if and when their views are critical of the establishment, the journalists’ body said.

“Journalists and cartoonists critical of the government are being targeted on social media, as pressures are being mounted by the government on these platforms to remove such critical journalists on the specious ground that they are violating the law of the land,” the Editors Guild said.

“All of this is contrary to the commitments that Prime Minister Narendra Modi made at the G7 Summit to democracy, openness, and against authoritarianism,” it said in a press statement today.

The media release expressed shock at the Uttar Pradesh Police “cavalier” treatment of the mysterious death of journalist Sulabh Srivastava. The Pratapgarh-based television reporter died Sunday night in what the police have called a “motorcycle accident”, a day after he wrote to senior police officials saying he felt threatened following his recent reportage on liquor mafia.

The Guild’s observations came a day after PM Modi, while addressing the G7 Summit’s Outreach Session ‘Building Back Together – Open Societies and Economies’ as the lead speaker, stressed on the need to ensure that cyberspace remains an avenue for advancing democratic values and not of subverting it.

India’s vigorously debating free speech curbs, especially amid a heated confrontation between the government and some social media platforms over free speech and other restrictions.

Srivastava had recently run a news story against the liquor mafia in the region. Then on June 12, he wrote to the Prayagraj additional director general of police to seek protection.

Additional Superintendent of Police Surendra Dwivedi said Srivastava died in a crash while returning from Asrahi village under the Lalganj police station area after reporting on illegal arms manufacturing unit uncovered there.

Following the crash, a severely injured Srivastava was taken to the district hospital, where doctors declared him dead, he said.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also hit out at the Uttar Pradesh government over the death of Sulabh Srivastava.

The Congress general secretary accused the Yogi Adityanath dispensation of “nurturing jungle raj”, police said.

“The liquor mafia from Aligarh to Pratapgarh: has caused death throughout the state. The government is silent,” Priyanka Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi. “Journalists uncover the truth, warn the administration about the dangers. The government is asleep,” she alleged.

Does the government that is “nurturing jungle raj” have any answers for the tears of the family of journalist Sulabh Srivastava, Priyanka Gandhi asked.

The Samajwadi Party (SP) also demanded a high-level inquiry into the death of journalist Srivastava.

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