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Caravan editor wants UK and Canada’s vigilance on India’s press freedom after London spat

Vinod K. Jose wrote to the foreign ministers of UK and Canada after a heated argument with Prasar Bharati chief A. Surya Prakash at a media freedom conference.

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New Delhi: The Caravan’s executive editor Vinod K. Jose has written to the governments of Britain and Canada, alleging increasing threats to press freedom in India and seeking their “vigilance”.

The letter follows his spat with Prasar Bharati chairman A. Surya Prakash at a recent global conference on media freedom in London.

Jose spoke about growing religious intolerance and dwindling press freedom in India at a panel discussion on religion and media in London, organised by the governments of Britain and Canada.

In the letter, also published in The Caravan, Jose also wrote that after the event, a United Nations official had asked him if he needed asylum, but he refused.

What happened in London?

Jose was invited to the event as one of the speakers, while Prakash, Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta and political analyst Kanchan Gupta were part of a “non-official delegation” nominated and sent by the information and broadcasting ministry to represent the government of India.

In the Q&A session following Jose’s session, Prakash had said he takes strong exception to his presentation, and that India is the largest and most vibrant democracy in the world.

Jose’s letter, addressed to British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, stated that even after he came back to India, there had been vicious and distorted reports against him in the national media, which simultaneously served as “PR plugs for Mr Prakash”.

“The state-owned news broadcaster, which Mr Prakash himself heads, aired a two-episode programme in the same vein, attacking what I highlighted in London,” he wrote.

He said he was accused by Prakash of portraying India in a bad light, and that Prakash also said that some people were using such forums to push their own political agenda.

“He also said there were factual inaccuracies in my presentation, but did not point out a single one,” Jose wrote.

“India’s government, as well as the parent organisation of the country’s Hindu-nationalist ruling party, is straining to brand prominent dissenters as public enemies, as a means of legitimising their harassment and even possible violence against them.”

Also read: Indian media controlled by a few, a risk to press freedom and pluralism: Study

‘Sad that India’s democracy was being derided’

When contacted, Prakash told ThePrint that India’s democracy is robust and vibrant, and that he was troubled by the fact that Jose’s presentation questioned its fundamentals.

“Isn’t it an irony that a journalist who is publishing reports against the government every now and then tells a global audience that there is no press freedom in the country? It is sad to see someone deriding India’s democracy at an international forum,” he said.

He further said that India being at rank 140 in the World Press Freedom index was laughable.

“I am amazed to see countries which are non-democracies, to put it mildly, and even nations where the practice of slavery is on even to this day, are way up the list,” he said, referring to Jose’s letter, which highlighted the index.

‘Lynching doesn’t make them sad, talking about it does’

Jose told ThePrint that he wasn’t concerned about Prakash putting forward his point of view — “everyone has the right to do so”.

“But it was the way he was doing it… Attacking and calling a presentation which was purely based on facts, especially the harrowing lynch videos and past riots, as ‘damaging India’s image’ and factually incorrect was against the spirit of the very conference,” he said.

“India’s rank in the global press freedom index has slipped to 140. Everybody in the profession knows India’s media freedom is under threat. It does not matter how many media organisations are operating at this point, the actual numbers must have gone up. What matters is how many media organisations do have the freedom to do the kind of investigative stories that we once used to do in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.

“Look, what happened in London is a normal thing — of the kind that’s taking place in India all the time thanks to the ruling ideology’s shenanigans. Lynching is not what makes them sad, it is talking about it which makes them sad.”

Also read: Indian media’s communal violence reportage needs to be consistent, not just show one angle

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  1. Jose of Caravan claims that a UN official approached him to ask if he wanted asylum presumably because he is being persecuted by the “hindoos” of India. Lol. Congrats to Jose for the ultimate international recognition after his rant. But wait…… maybe the UN official meant admission to a *mental* asylum for Jose, not the asylum meant for those who are in danger of being bumped off like in China or Pakistan. It’s better he gets the matter clarified before he starts celebrating !!!

  2. Based on facts lol 😂 😂 😂
    This rice bag convert proved it that missionaries and jihadis are really hurt by Hindus choosing BJP.
    He said sikh riots was done by RSS lol just like puwama, Mumbai attack, etc everything is done by RSS.
    He said that RSS controls media, judiciary lol.
    He said only minorities are targeted lol what about Ramalingum, Anshul saxena, etc.
    The print should have added the claims made by this creature

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