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‘A Clear Intimidation Tactic.’ Press Watchdog Urges India to Drop Investigation Into Journalist Over COVID-19 Reporting

‘A Clear Intimidation Tactic.’ Press Watchdog Urges India to Drop Investigation Into Journalist Over COVID-19 Reporting


A press watchdog known as on Indian police Thursday to drop a legal investigation right into a journalist for her protection of the COVID-19 pandemic within the prime minister’s parliamentary constituency.

Authorities launched a legal probe into Supriya Sharma, the manager editor of the information web site Scroll.in, on June 13, in accordance with the Committee to Shield Journalists (CPJ). They’re investigating Sharma for alleged defamation and negligence that would trigger the coronavirus to unfold.

“Launching a legal investigation right into a journalist for her work within the prime minister’s parliamentary constituency is a transparent intimidation tactic and sends a chilling message to journalists throughout the nation,” stated Aliya Iftikhar, CPJ’s senior Asia researcher.

She added that Sharma “was merely doing her job as a journalist.”

In keeping with Scroll.in, the investigation was sparked by an article on the impression of countrywide lockdowns ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to curb the unfold of the coronavirus. The article stated that individuals in a village in Varanasi went hungry.

In keeping with CPJ, a girl talked about within the article sparked the investigation after claiming her remarks had been misrepresented.

“Scroll.in has reported the article precisely and stands by it,” the location stated in an announcement issued Thursday. The investigation is an “try to intimidate and silence unbiased journalism, reporting on circumstances of susceptible teams through the COVID-19 lockdown,” the web site stated.

Throughout the Asia-Pacific area, governments have been cracking down on press freedom amid the well being disaster. In India, the place journalists had been already underneath strain earlier than the pandemic, press watchdogs say a number of journalists have confronted intimidation for his or her reporting on the federal government’s dealing with of the outbreak.

Native authorities throughout the nation took authorized motion towards, questioned or detained not less than eight journalists between the tip of March and mid-Might, in accordance with CPJ.

The press watchdog stated native authorities additionally demanded a separate information company concern an apology or face authorized motion over a report in late March that some youngsters in Varanasi didn’t have sufficient meals and had been consuming grass because of the swiftly introduced lockdown.

Press freedom in India has been on the decline lately. The nation backslid two locations to 142 out of 180 nations in Reporters With out Borders (RSF)’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index.