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The Gujarat Model has become the Gangster State.

Also the NYT has some answering to do about the raids on NewsClick

04 OCT 2023

On Tuesday, the Indian police raided the homes and offices of several dozen journalists and contributors associated with the online media outlet Newsclick.

Local reports indicated that the police used the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, or (UAPA), an anti-terror law to conduct the operation.

In total, 46 people, including veteran journalists, were taken in for questioning.

The police also confiscated their phones and laptops.

The case against Newsclick was filed just over a week after a New York Times report that connected NewsClick to an international network that funds pro-China propaganda.

“The report sparked a political and media scandal within India, which saw right-wing news outlets running dozens of pieces lodging baseless accusations that the members of the outlets are Chinese propagandists,” the People’s Dispatch wrote.

NewsClick is one of the few remaining left-leaning and progressive media platforms in India that has dared to take on Modi.

The attack on the platform comes as the Modi-government continues to use every avenue to blunt the opposition, suffocate the media and build a one party-state.

It’s part of the systematic overhaul of the institutions that made up India’s so-called democracy.

Naturally, under Modi, Indian media and civil society are under a microscope and under duress.

A critical word, and a morass of paid trolls and online harassment are likely to follow you. Ask any journalist who has written anything remotely critical of Modi over the past decade.

Upset the wrong person, and your phone may be hacked and evidence planted on it. Ask those involved in the Bhima Koregoan case.

Speak out of turn, and you may end up with terror charges leveled against you and made an example of. Ask any of the several Kashmiri journalists languishing in jail.

This is a hyper sensitive government on a singular mission. Dissenters will be made into examples and serve as deterrents.

But this particular story is not just about the Indian government; it is also about the ways in which the western world is helping Modi accomplish his goals.

Case in point: the The New York Times.

It’s difficult to assess the extent to which The Times’ report back in August influenced the government’s case against NewsClick.

However, we know it to be true that they used The Times’ article to amplify and augment a public case to bury the media platform (and all associated with it) in the interests of “national security” and “sovereignty”.

The Times’ piece caused a ruckus in parliament. NewClick’s Twitter account was duly suspended. The mainstream Indian media made a meal out of it.

So here is the thing: The Times’ did not conclude that NewsClick is engaged in financial irregularity.

It instead described NewsClick’s coverage as “sprinkled” with Chinese government talking points, going on to link to a single video marking the 1949 Chinese revolution to substantiate its point.

Inserted throughout the piece were inferences to a guilt by association with China.

This is the definition of McCarthyism.

As it happened, NewsClick appears to have been charged under the terror act for “promoting Chinese propaganda”.

In the context of a hostile and dangerous environment for media (in which India ranks lower than Laos, and the Philippines and neighboring Pakistan in media freedom), and civil society in India, The Times would have known its story could place the lives of these journalists at risk.

The Times would have known that presenting NewsClick as part of a Chinese “propaganda network” in a context of flagrantly anti-China hysteria in India, could be easily weaponised to have the platform shut down.

And that if it happened, The Times would have known that the mediascape in India, already embattled and incapacitated, would be poorer without it.

The killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar

The diplomatic row between India and Canada over the murder of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar has shown little sign of dissipating.

Nijjar was gunned down in Surrey Canada in June 2023.

Last month, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said that intelligence appeared to suggest that the Indian government had a hand in his murder.

India denied the allegations and the crisis has only escalated since.

Visa services are being canceled, diplomats expelled and the Indian mainstream media machine is doing its utmost to fuel the fire by amplifying government outrage.

For the record: the Indian government claims that it does not conduct assassinations on foreign soil.

To be precise, India’s Minister of External Affairs, said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegation that Delhi may have been behind the murder of Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar “was not consistent with our policy”.

Given that India has a long, documented history of extra-judicial killings at home, a record of several state-sponsored pogroms, including against Sikhs in 1984 and Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, a litany of arbitrary arreststorture, and killing of Kashmiris and Manipuris, the mowing down and demolishing of Muslim-owned homes, among other crimes, I wish someone had asked him if these were consistent with India’s policies, too.

The Gujarat Model has become the Gangster State.

India-Israel scholarship

Earlier in September, Abullah Moaswes wrote an excellent report in the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) detailing the security coordination between India and Israel. Moaswes said there was “an increasingly overt convergence of interests and ideology has led to both states tangibly supporting one another in working towards their respective political and economic ambitions.”

“Through this partnership, state repression in Indian-occupied territories is not an exclusively Indian project. It has become part of a broader network, linking India to the Israeli state and its own colonial project.”

Other news: Kashmir

The Financial Times carried a piece on Wednesday about how Modi is pushing Indian business to invest in Jammu & Kashmir.

According to the report, Sajjan Jindal, the chair of conglomerate JSW Group, will be investing $20mn-$25mn in a new steel facility in Pulwama. The facility is set to open in March.

Earlier this year, the Indian government said they found lithium reserves in Jammu, raising concerns of a new rush into J&K and the possibility of displacement as well as environmental degradation.

Book Events

Dr. Hafsa Kanjwal will be in discussion with several scholars in the UK about her new book Colonizing Kashmir: State Building Under Indian Occupation.

The book was published by Stanford University Press in August.

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Azad Essa