‘I never thought the day would come when in my own country, I would be told to hire private security’
Barkha Dutt, a senior journalist Indian told platform Newsclick that she had been receiving veiled threats from ‘powerful people in the establishment’. In an interview with journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta on Friday, Barkha elaborated on the series of tweets claiming that she had received ‘chilling and veiled threats’, placing question on her and her family’s security in the country.
“Over the last few months those associated with the ruling party have warned me – politely, impolitely – not to work on new TV projects and told me – we will never allow them to happen- today I was told a 45 minute meeting held on how to stop me, smear me, malign me, tap me,” she wrote.
She also said that meetings were being held to discuss how to stop her ongoing projects. Amid inquiries as to whether she had filed an FIR against those threats, she said, “How do you lodge an FIR against insidious intimidation, which is effectively about using instruments of power to create a coercive environment of fear?”
Barkha Dutt’s situation comes amidst rising opposition to hardline Hinduism being propagated across the country. Journalists like Ravish Kumar and Rana Ayyub have also opened up about receiving death threats for criticizing the government’s ideological inclinations.
Recently, Gauri Lankesh, who had spoken against the RSS was shot and killed outside her residence. Similar cases have been recorded on activist Narendra Dabholkar, M.M Kalburgi and Govind Pansare who were outspoken critics of idol worship among Hindus.
The Reporters without Borders Organization has kept India’s Press Freedom Index at 138, denoting the lack of freedom of the press.
The RSF evaluates the freedom of the media on the basis of the level of pluralism, media independence, environment and self-censorship, transparency, legal framework and the quality of infrastructure. India’s position is one notch above Pakistan’s, suggesting widespread censorship and a general fear of consequential retaliation of the government.