Press freedom will not be curbed under Modi: I&B minister Javadekar
Newly-appointed Information and Broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar has sought to allay such fears among a section of the press by saying the government will not interfere with press freedom.
Of the several USPs of Narendra Modi's poll campaign, one was how he held social media with an iron fist. If the 'Modi wave' was most visible anywhere, it had to be on social media, especially on Twitter. In the wake of Modi's victory, however, the apprehension that freedom of speech could be curbed, directly or indirectly, has grown, especially in the light of the online NaMo brigade's incessant abuse directed at any voices critical of Modi.
However, newly-appointed Information and Broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar has sought to allay such fears among a section of the press by saying the government will not interfere with press freedom.
The Times of India reported Javadekar as saying, "We believe that press freedom is the essence of democracy. And to make democracy a success, we require this press freedom because it gives people the choice in a rainbow of differing opinions."
According to the report, Javadekar also assured that fears regarding the freedom of press under Modi are unfounded. He also invited 'constructive criticism'.
Javadekar's announcement comes on the back of two incidents where people were arrested for voicing anti-Modi emotions. First a ship building professional from Mumbai was arrested in Goa for making anti-Modi comments on a Facebook group. NDTV reports, "Mr Chodankar- a shipbuilding professional from Mumbai - has been booked under sections 153(A), 295(A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 125 of the People's Representation Act and 66-A of the Information Technology Act. Some of these sections are non-bailable."
Then a group of five students from Bangalore were arrested for circulating a message on WhatsApp which reportedly had a graphic play-out of a mock funeral of Narendra Modi.
While Javadekar's assurance might come as a breath of fresh air to the media fraternity, it's not clear if similar leeway will be given to people not part of the country's media. The arrests uncannily remind one of Bengal post TMC's win where a professor was arrested for 'forwarding' a caricature of Mamata Banerjee on e-mail. The complaint was lodged by a TMC worker and the police hastily arrested the professor, leading to widespread protests in Kolkata.
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