Indian government rejects RSF press freedom report
New Delhi, Mar 14 (EFE).- The Indian government said on Tuesday that it was not in agreement with the annual report of the Reporters Without Borders (RSF), that flags a progressive deterioration in the freedom of press in the South Asian country, weeks after the offices of British state broadcaster BBC were raided by India’s tax authorities.
“The government does not subscribe to its (RSF’s) views and country rankings and does not agree to the conclusions drawn by this organization forvarious reasons,” the Indian minister for information and broadcasting Anurag Singh Thakur said in a written response in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the parliament.
The minister insisted that the Indian authorities “do not interfere in the functioning of the press” and criticized the survey’s “very low sample size,” and due to “little or no weightage” being given to “fundamentals of democracy” in India.
“The methodology is questionable and non-transparent,” Thakur said in response to India slipping to the 150th rank in RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index, down from the 142nd rank in 2021. The index lists a total of 180 countries.
In its latest report, RSF said that freedom of press in India was “in crisis” due to episodes of violence against journalists, media outlets backing political groups and the ownership of newspapers and channels getting concentrated in a few hands.
The media watchdog has directly blamed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for being behind the media environment being stifled.
For example, last month’s tax raids on BBC offices have been linked by the RSF by a controversial documentary series released by the broadcaster over Modi’s role in deadly religious clashes between Hindus and Muslims in 2002.
This investigative series over the leader’s role in the violence, in which thousands of people were killed – with the Muslim minority being the main targets – was not released officially in India, but the authorities ordered that the content be blocked on the internet and tried to prevent its screening in university campuses.
RSF has also condemned other tax raids against other media outlets following their coverage critical of the government, such as the Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar, and arrests of media professionals under draconian laws. EFE