Is the Press Really Free in India to Report on Farmers Protest?

Is India turning hostile towards free press? What challenges are journalists facing on the ground from the State?

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While barricades are being put up in a bid to crack down on farmers' protest, simultaneously there have been FIRs and cases of sedition against several journalists over their reportage of the protest.

Since the Red Fort violence, over the past couple of weeks, Rajdeep Sardesai, Mrinal Pande, Zafar Agha, Paresh Nath, Anant Nath, and Vinod K Jose had cases against them for allegedly misreporting the events and promoting disharmony.

In a separate instance, freelance journalist Mandeep Punia who's a contributor to The Caravan, was arrested while reporting at the Singhu border for allegedly misbehaving with the police.

While visuals of the police manhandling him at the protest site went viral, prompting the media fraternity to demand his release, Punia was kept in judicial custody for 14 days without being allowed to see his lawyer until he received his bail on 3 February.

After his release, Punia alleged that he was falsely accused of assaulting the police, and was given a brutal treatment in custody.

As these kind of incidents have been spiking over the last few years, India has also been sliding down the ladder of the world press freedom index. In 2020, India ranked 142nd out of 180 countries.

Is India turning hostile towards free press? What challenges are journalists facing on the ground from the State?

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