'Gauri Lankesh in the making': Twitter troll threatens journalist Swati Chaturvedi, who says Centre 'doesn't even pretend to probe' such cases

One more Gauri Lankesh in the making — that's what a tweet from one ‘@Mitra_Cariappa’, which has ‘A Proud Hindustani’ in its bio, tweeted to senior journalist Swati Chaturvedi on Wednesday. Swati reported it to Twitter and also filed a police complaint on Thursday evening, however, authorities haven't taken any action so far.

 Gauri Lankesh in the making: Twitter troll threatens journalist Swati Chaturvedi, who says Centre doesnt even pretend to probe such cases

"Even though the tweet was deleted, there are screenshots of it. Other people have also reported the user going by the handle '@mitra_cariappa', but there has been no response," said Swati Chaturvedi, who is a resident of Delhi. Swati recently won the Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Award for Courage on 9 November.

File photo of Swati Chaturvedi. Twitter@bainjal

File photo of Swati Chaturvedi. Twitter@bainjal

A journalist with over 20 years of field experience, Chaturvedi has reported on the Jain Commission, the Rafale deal, the CBI controversy, among other stories. "I have been in this profession for 20 years, but have only started receiving such threats for the last four years and eight months. Now, I get at least a dozen such threats every week. It's evident where they are coming from and what they mean, but the Centre is not even pretending to investigate such instances anymore," Chaturvedi adds.

Ever since the editor of Lankesh Patrike Gauri Lankesh was shot outside her residence in Bangalore on 5 September 2017, journalists writing critiques of the BJP government have been vary with increasing instances of censorship and vitriol directed at them, especially on social media platforms like Twitter. Chaturvedi explains, "Trolls followed by (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi on Twitter feel they have immunity and can get away with murder."

Chaturvedi also says that she has "done everything" she is "supposed to do" in such a situation. "I have reported the tweet to the authorities in charge, but the government or police have not bothered to do anything about it."

In its annual World Press Freedom Index released on 25 April 2018, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders organisation said that India was ranked 138th in the world out of 180 countries measured, down two positions since 2017 and lower than countries like Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Myanmar. When the index was started in 2002, India was ranked 80th out of 139 countries surveyed.

A Reuters report quoted Reporters Without Borders as saying that “with Hindu nationalists trying to purge all manifestations of ‘anti-national’ thought from the national debate, self-censorship is growing in the mainstream media and journalists are increasingly the targets of online smear campaigns by the most radical nationalists, who vilify them and even threaten physical reprisals.”

The group also said that “hate speech targeting journalists is shared and amplified on social networks, often by troll armies.” Spokesmen for the government declined to comment on the accusations by the organisation. They did not immediately respond to the Reporters Without Borders report, Reuters said.

A Hindustan Times report quoted Lankesh about the exponentially unsafe atmosphere for journalists, if they opposed "the ideology of the party in power". Just months before she was assassinated, Lankesh had said, “Let me assure you, they are keen to somehow shut me up too."

Updated Date: Nov 23, 2018 13:44:40 IST