Martand Kaushik, Ahan Penkar: Reporting is not a crime. So why has India’s government charged our magazine?
On 26 January, India celebrated the anniversary of its constitution, which 74 years ago promised citizens a secular, democratic state and justice, equality and liberty for all. But as the traditional Republic Day parade took place in New Delhi’s centre, across the city those very values were being violated in the most egregious manner. Hundreds of thousands of farmers, who have been peacefully protesting the government’s new agricultural laws since November, held a rally on Republic Day, on the outskirts of the capital. But when farmers forced their way into the city, police responded with violence.
One 34-year-old protester, Navreet Singh, was killed. Officials claimed the death was an accident, due to Singh’s tractor overturning. But several eyewitnesses and forensic experts allege that Singh was shot and killed by the police. The Caravan magazine, which we work for, was one of the first media outlets to report these eyewitness accounts.
Both violence against protesters and disinformation vilifying them has been on the rise in recent weeks, and there has also been a government crackdown on reporters. Since The Caravan reported on Singh, police in five different states, all controlled by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, have filed criminal charges against our magazine’s publisher and editor-in-chief, editor, and executive editor – Paresh Nath, Anant Nath, and Vinod Jose respectively – for offences including “sedition”, “criminal conspiracy” and “statements conducing to public mischief”. At least six other senior Indian journalists were also charged this week, including Siddharth Varadarajan, the editor of The Wire, as well as an opposition MP….
Satarupa Chakraborty: CJI's Remarks on Women Farmers Are an Assault on Human Agency and Constitutional Rights / Pratap Bhanu Mehta: SC’s order on the farm bills is terrible constitutional precedent, bereft of judgment