New Delhi, May 3 (EFE).- A dozen human rights NGOs, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, on Tuesday called on India’s government to stop persecuting journalists as Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom index confirmed the country’s deterioration.
“Indian authorities are increasingly targeting journalists and online critics for their criticism of government policies and practices, including by prosecuting them under counterterrorism and sedition laws,” the NGOs said on World Press Freedom Day.
The government’s attitude “has emboldened Hindu nationalists to threaten, harass, and abuse journalists critical of the Indian government, both online and offline, with impunity,” the statement read.
The government led by prime minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has “routinely” prosecuted journalists over terrorism and sedition charges and even searched newspaper headquarters.
“These restrictions on media freedom come amid an escalating crackdown on civil society by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government,” it added.
India dropped eight places from 142nd to 150th in Reporters Without Borders’ 2022 press freedom index published on Tuesday.
“With an average of three or four journalists killed in connection with their work every year, India is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media,” RSF said in a report.
At least six journalists were killed and 17 arrested in India throughout 2021, showing the continued deterioration of press freedom in the Asian country, according to a report published last February by the think tank Rights & Risks Analysis Group. EFE