Does India deserve the title of democracy, asks Washington Post editorial

It said that Disha Ravi's arrest “ought to ring alarm bells about whether a country that boasts of being the world’s largest democracy still deserves that title.”

Hyderabad: The Washington Post published a scathing editorial attacking Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and asking if India still deserves the title of being called a democracy.

The editorial, published on Thursday, questioned the arrest of Disha Ravi, saying, “Any government that would charge a 22-year-old climate and animal rights activist with sedition on the basis of a Google Doc cannot be readily described as a democracy.”

It said that Disha Ravi’s arrest, earlier this month, “ought to ring alarm bells about whether a country that boasts of being the world’s largest democracy still deserves that title.”

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Disha Ravi was arrested from Bangalore on February 13 for allegedly editing and sharing a toolkit that was first shared by global climate activist Greta Thunberg. Ravi was charged with sedition and accused of conspiring against the country, among other things.

She was released from Tihar jail on February, 23 after a Delhi court granted her bail earlier on the same day. Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana, while granting bail to the climate activist, called the evidence against her “scanty and sketchy” and said, “The offense of sedition cannot be invoked to minister to the wounded vanity of the governments.” 

The Washington Post editorial, called Disha Ravis’s persecution as “part of a broad pattern of speech suppression and other violations of democratic norms by the Modi government.”

“Several journalists who covered a day of demonstrations by the farmers in New Delhi last month also face criminal charges,” the editorial further read.

It further said that the farm laws that led to the farmers’ protest “is itself evidence of Mr. Modi’s disregard for standards.”

The editorial criticized the BJP government for pushing the laws through parliament without “meaningful debate”. It added that the Modi government used similar tactics to “adopt controversial laws on citizenship and to revoke the autonomy of the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir,” referring to the Citizenship Amendment Act and abrogation of Article 370. 

The editorial, however, expressed an optimistic view towards the end and said, “Fortunately, some of India’s institutions are pushing back,” referring to the Supreme Court’s verdict in which the apex court suspended the implementation of the farm laws and the judge’s comments in Disha’s bail order.

“The question is whether it will be enough to check Mr. Modi’s drift toward autocracy,” it concluded.

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