Freedom of Speech is the right guaranteed by the constitution of India to its citizens under Article 19(1) (a). Every Indian has a right to speak their opinions though there’s no separate right for press but they do come under Art 19(1) (a) but in today’s scenario this has become issue of selectivity, people tend to be only supporting people if he/she belongs to their ideology and not if they don’t.
In recent cases we’ve seen how if someone has been arrested or there is another crackdown people have reacted to it.
Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar raids:
In an early morning crackdown on two media houses, Income Tax raided Dainik Bhaskar and UP based TV channel Bharat Samachar. These raids drew strong reactions from the usual suspects such as opposition leaders and journalists cabal who said that government has been doing this because they are ‘scared of the coverage’.
After Raids, IT alleged Rs.700cr tax evasion; funds diversion by Dainik Bhaskar Group though the department did not name Dainik Bhaskar but officials in the Central Board of Direct Taxes confirmed the details related to the DB Group in the statement which referred to an “Rs 6,000-crore prominent group” with interests in media, real estate, textiles and power.
The raids lead to huge debate regarding press freedom in India and how Government is crushing it.
This is not the first time that voice was raised for Dainik Bhaskar but also for Siddique Kappan who has been in Jail ever since October 2020 and has been booked under UAPA on charges of plotting riots in Hathras. UP STF in April had filed charge sheet against him in April 2021.
On 22nd July 2021, the lutyens cabal and opposition leaders started crying that government is stifling the voice of media. They raised voice for Siddique Kappan, Dainik Bhaskar. They are correct to an extent that government is stifling the voice of the press because some of them were the force behind stifling voices of them years ago and recently, in fact most recently in 2020.
How can we forget that how the state machinery in Maharashtra unleashed each and everything trick in the book to target Arnab Goswami who’s the Editor-In-Chief of Republic Tv.
It all started with his coverage on Palghar where FIRs were filed against him he was attacked because he dared to take someone’s name and question her silence on that incident, even as he got relief in that case, another storm awaited him.
Even as he intensified his coverage on SSR Death Case taking the state government head on, the vicious vendetta campaign began against him. On 8th October 2020, the then Mumbai CP accused Republic of rigging TRP ratings however it was exposed that that was named in FIR. He each and every day single handedly countered the allegations and they are fighting cases in the courts.
On 4th November, India woke to the arrest of Arnab Goswami in a 2 year old case which was closed but later reopened. The manner in which he was arrested really raised questions on intentions of the police. However, some of journalists took a quiet different stand saying ‘No one is above the law….but this is not the way’ in fact some were thanking the police and some were so happy that they wanted to have ice cream that day, the bottom line is not everyone stood with him.
Some journalists did protest and condemned but the protest was led by the common people. For those 8 days, the channel and the people fought for him and on 11th November 2020, he was back roaring. People rallied behind him and that’s why channel is called ’REPUBLIC’.
How can even one forget the EMERGENCY which was imposed on June 25th 1975 which lasted till March 1977? It was the biggest attack on press freedom and civil liberties. The then PM Indira Gandhi had the state of emergency declared across the country in this dark phase, press freedom was curbed, political opponents were jailed and not only this human rights were violated which included ‘Mass Sterilization Campaign’ which was spearheaded by Sanjay Gandhi the son of Indira Gandhi
During the emergency, the press was censored and the newspapers to get prior approval for the articles to get published. Some were threatened to be thrown out from publication or in jail. However, Indian Express and Statesman were the first one to protest through their editions as a mark of protest Indian Express and Statesman left their editorial pages empty and this move was followed by other editions too.
42nd Contraversial Amendment was introduced by Mr. H.R Gokhale the then Law Minister under the leadership of PM Indira Gandhi when opposition leaders Atal Vihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani and J.P Narayan were in jail.
Journalist Kuldip Nayar was arrested by the police for protesting against the emergency with other scribes in Delhi. Opposition leaders then were fighting the same cause across the country and one of them was Veteran BJP leader L.K Advani. When emergency was lifted, he said to the media that “You were asked only to bend, but you crawled.”
Be it 1975 or 2020, the politicians ‘EMERGENCY’ mindset didn’t change but what’s more shocking that the media didn’t stood though some newspapers did revolt against emergency in 1975 but in 2020 no media stood with their own colleague who was arrested and treated like hardened criminal either some rather gave balancing statement or some wanted to have ice-cream that night. Though this selectivity is not good but we must learn to walk alone and fight our own battles and yes when truth is by our side freedom of speech will win. Let their selectivity expose themselves.