NEW DELHI: UN human rights experts have called for an end to “misogynistic and bigoted” online attacks on an Indian Muslim journalist, asking authorities to investigate the harassment.
Rana Ayyub, a fierce critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Hindu nationalist ideology of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been the target of a relentless campaign of online abuse, including death and rape threats .
She is “a victim of escalating online attacks and threats by far-right Hindu nationalist groups,” the independent rapporteurs, who do not speak on behalf of the UN but are mandated to report, said in a statement on Monday. report to him.
They said the attacks were in response to Ayyub’s reporting on issues affecting India’s Muslim minority, his criticism of the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and his comments on the recent ban. hijab in schools and colleges in the southern state of Karnataka.
The reporters added that the Indian government had neither condemned nor investigated the attacks.
She “has been subjected to judicial harassment by the Indian authorities because of her reporting”, they said, including the freezing of her bank account and other assets.
Ayyub, 37, started out as an investigative journalist and wrote a book accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being complicit in deadly sectarian violence in Gujarat in 2002 when he was the state’s premier.
Investigators have cleared Modi of any involvement.
She has since become a commentator for the Washington Post and other outlets.
This week, the Post ran a full-page ad saying that Ayyub faces almost daily threats and that the free press is “under attack” in India.
India’s mission to the UN in Geneva tweeted in response to the rapporteurs’ statement that the allegations of “so-called judicial harassment are baseless and unjustified”, and that advancing “a misleading narrative only tarnishes” the reputation of the United Nations.
Other journalists have also complained of increased harassment under Modi, whose government has been accused of trying to silence critical reporting.
Media rights group Reporters Without Borders ranks India a modest 142nd in its World Press Freedom Index, saying that under Modi “pressure has increased on the media to follow the line of the Hindu nationalist government”.
“The coordinated hate campaigns carried out on social media against journalists who dare to speak or write about subjects that annoy followers of Hindutva (hard Hindu ideology) are terrifying and include calls for the murder of the journalists concerned”, according to RSF .
“Campaigns are particularly violent when the targets are women.” -AFP