Afroz Alam Sahil for BeyondHeadlines
International media watch group Reporters without Frontiers has found India’s authorities quelling freedom of press and putting more surveillance on media users and activists. Despite economic growth, India has fallen 17 places to 122nd in 2010.
Again in 2011, India has fallen 10 places to 131 and in 2012-2013 India is placed at 140 far below from Bhutan (82), Maldive (103), Nepal (118), Afghanistan (128), and Zimbawe (133). RSF observes that “India is at its lowest since 2002 because of increasing impunity for violence against journalists and because Internet censorship continues to grow.”
Many journalists from minority community have become easy target of security agencies. A Kashmiri journalist Iftikhar Gilani and Muhammad Ahmad Kazmi, (Delhi) Mutiurrahman (Banglore) and many other Muslim journalists were arrested, detained and harassed by police and were not strongly defended by media fraternity.
In 2012 a Malyalam weekly, reported that 268 e-mail accounts had been subjected to surveillance by the Kerala state intelligence, out of which 258 belongs to Muslims.
It is said that none among them had any previous criminal backgrounds and so there is no clarity as to why they were put under surveillance. The scoop done by Madhyamam’s Viju V Nair has prompted harsh condemnation of the government by Muslim organizations. The Kerala state is also ruled by Indian National Congress.
RSF also expresses its serious concerns on increased internet surveillance on users. A Canadian company Research in Motion has established a “surveillance centre” and Indian government takes its services to obtain decoded messages exchanged by “suspicious” users of the BlackBerry Messenger chat service, the RSF report says.
The “IT Rules 2011,” has been figured out with serious concerns because of its powers to supress internet freedom. Google Transparency has reported that Indian government and officials have asked multiple times (67 to be exact, between July and December 2010) to remove 282 content items (namely videos critical of politicians) from YouTube and several blogs. Google allegedly complied with 22% of the requests. Committee to protect Journalists ranks India one of the worst countries in the world at combating deadly anti-press violence.