ndsharma's blog

Modi lets a climate of mob rule flourish in India

Posted on: September 7, 2017

This Editorial in The New York Times sees dark days for Indian Democracy if PM Narendra Modi does not check the Hindu-nationalist militancy:

The murder on Tuesday of the Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh, a fearless critic of rising Hindu-nationalist militancy, has all the hallmarks of a hit job. “The message and not to independent journalists but to all dissenters is loud and clear,” tweeted Sidharth Bhatia, founding editor of the Indian online news site The Wire, “We are watching you and one day we will get you.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has let a climate of mob rule flourish in India, with his right-wing Hindu supporters vilifying “secularists.” The venom that reactionary social media trolls direct at journalists, or “presstitutes” as they call them, is especially vicious, but not entirely new. At least 27 Indian journalists have been killed since 1992 “in direct retaliation for their work,” according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Only one of the killers has been convicted. Still, Ms. Lankesh’s murder shocked India’s news media and set off protest marches in several Indian cities. “Journalists are increasingly the targets of online smear campaigns by the most radical nationalists, who vilify them and even threaten physical reprisals,” Reporters Without Borders” said.

The government of the state of Karnataka is investigating the killing of Ms. Lankesh, an editor and publisher of a Kannada-language weekly tabloid, who was shot outside her home in Bengaluru. Her family has given the police closed-circuit video of the murder scene, so that the killers, and anyone who may have ordered the assassination, may be brought to justice.

This has not happened so far in the murders of other outspoken critics of right-wing Hindu nationalists. Narendra Dabholkar,  whose campaigns against superstitious practices angered many Hindu religious activists, was shot to death near his home in Pune in 2013. Two years ago, Malleshappa Madivalappa Kulburgi, a former vice chancellor of Kannada University who spent decades debunking peddlers of superstition, was fatally shot in his home in Dharwad.

Ms. Lankesh had voiced concern about the climate of menace against journalists who didn’t toe the Hindu-nationalist line. If Mr. Modi doesn’t condemn her murder forcefully and denounce the harassment and threats that critics of Hindu militancy face daily, more critics will live in fear of deadly reprisal and Indian democracy will see dark days.

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