Washington: In a stinging editorial, The New York Times has held the Modi government and its political allies responsible for cracking down on JNU students and domineering freedom of expression in India.
“India is in the throes of a violent clash between advocates of freedom of speech and the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its political allies on the Hindu right determined to silence dissent,” the New York Times (NYT) said in an op-ed piece.
The confrontation “raises serious concerns about Modi’s governance and may further stall any progress in Parliament on economic reforms”, it said.
The newspaper carried a separate article on the events in Delhi after the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar, JNU student leader, on charges of sedition and said that the message was clear — violence in the name of ultra nationalism is acceptable. “Not even the courts are safe spaces. Challenge the state, or the BJP, at your peril.”
The article was re-tweeted by tennis great Martina Navratilova with her comment, “what passes for sedition in India-ultra nationalism easily turns into violence at worst, bullying at best.”
France’s leading daily ‘Le Monde’ said in an editorial that “the horizon of Indian democracy has been oddly clouded” since the coming to power of Mr. Modi.
The NYT said that the responsibility for the “lynch mob mentality” lay squarely with the Modi government.
Indian citizens have the right to voice their “outrage at government threats to the exercise of their democratic rights”.
Not just PM Modi, New York Times editorial also takes a dig at his government and other ministers.
Quoting Home Minister Rajnath Singh–“If anyone raises anti-India slogans and tries to raise question on the nation’s unity and integrity, they will not be spared,”– the editorial said that “Mr. Singh apparently does not realize that, in a democracy, voicing dissent is a vital right, not a crime.”
In the concluding sentence, NYT asks PM Modi to rein in his ministers or risk sabotaging India’s economic progress.
“Mr. Modi must rein in his ministers and his party, and defuse the current crisis, or risk sabotaging both economic progress and India’s democracy,” it notes.
“The arrest of a student of JNU and a former professor in Delhi, accused of ‘sedition’, is the latest illustration of the authoritarian drift of a Hindu nationalist government…,” said the piece.