In a recent stunner, NDTV India’s executive producer Ravish Kumar, well known for his prime-time news, has received a number of death threats since April. It all started when a tweet from a twitter handle looking similar to Republic TV circulated on social media in which Ravish was falsely quoted that he supports the rapist of an 11-year-old. Kumar clarified that he had made no statements. Nevertheless, the abuse and threats kept coming, one of them being a photo where his face was imposed on the body of late journalist Daniel Pearl who was brutally assassinated by ISIS, suggesting that he would undergo the same fate as Pearl. Abhishek Tiwari, who claimed to be head of Bajarang Dal’s student Unit in Jaunpur, sent a video to Kumar in which he warns that he would chase Kumar to Pakistan and kill him for allegedly insulting his ‘Sanatan Dharm’.
Another journalist facing similar threats is Rana Ayyub, an independent journalist who, unlike Ravish Kumar, does not have a big organisation backing her. She has been receiving Rape and Death threats for quite a few years now on social media, but the threats started to intensify when a malicious Tweet on 20 April falsely quoted Ayyub as a supporter of child rapists and claiming that Indians Muslims were no longer safe in the country. This false tweet was later translated in Hindi and shared by various facebook pages and twitter handles who claim to be supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The last three days there has been a concerted effort in the form of multiple fake tweets, photoshopped tweets, morphed videos on twitter / fb that even the most sensible have fallen for and have gone viral. Those asking me to clarify, please use your own discretion. pic.twitter.com/alf3qkiQSq
— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) April 23, 2018
The threats to Rana Ayyub have been acknowledged by the United Nations as well. The UN human rights experts have called on the relevant authorities in India to act urgently to protect Ayyub. The press release by the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) says that the experts were ‘highly concerned’ with respect to the death threats, citing the cold-blooded murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was murdered following similar death threats.
An investigation conducted by AltNews.in suggests that there exist a systematic propaganda on the social media to harass journalists who may be considered unfriendly to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. The abuse and threats are being originated from known individuals who proudly identify themselves as Hindu nationalists and supporter of BJP and the party’s top brass. The Prime Minister and his ministers too follow some of these abusers, which should be a matter of great concern for this democracy.
Note: Any opinions, findings, and conclusion or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the TSA.