The Trump administration on Saturday claimed that in India, media outlets critical of the government were allegedly pressured or harassed in 2017. “The Constitution (of India) provides for freedom of speech and expression, but it does not explicitly mention freedom of the press. The government (of India) generally respected these rights, although there were instances in which the government allegedly pressured or harassed media outlets critical of the government,” US State Department said in its annual Human Rights Report for the year 2017. The Congress mandated annual report of the Department of State chronicles situation of human rights in almost all countries of the world.
While the situation of human rights in India, as compared to other countries, is much better, the State Department report chronicles major instances of incidents perceived as an attack on the press freedom in India.
The report detailed 54 alleged attacks on journalists, at least three cases of TV news channels being banned, 45 internet shutdowns, and 45 sedition cases against individuals and groups. The report mentioned the CBI raid on NDTV, exit of Bobby Ghosh as the editor of The Hindustan Times and arrest of cartoonist G Bala.
During the year a subcommittee of the Press Council of India issued a report to the government on the protection and preservation of the freedom of the press and integrity of journalists; the report highlighted that at least 80 journalists had been killed since 1990 and only one conviction had been made.
“Online and mobile harassment, particularly of female journalists, was prevalent, with some female activists and journalists reporting that they receive thousands of abusive tweets from ‘trolls’ every week,” it said.
The report noted the killing of senior journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh and attack on TV journalist Shantau Bhowmik.
Widespread corruption; reports of political prisoners in certain states; and instances of censorship and harassment of media outlets, including some critical of the government continued, it said.