Journalists and rights groups say there are increasing efforts to silence the media in India from both government and society, with the United Nations warning that the life of one Muslim journalist in particular is at “serious risk”.
The case of Rana Ayyub, who has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s followers have normalised hatred online, saw UN experts intervene on May 24 and call on India to protect the Mumbai-based independent reporter.
“We are highly concerned that the life of Rana Ayyub is at serious risk following these graphic and disturbing threats,” they wrote in a report, recalling the murder of another Indian journalist, Gauri Lankesh, following death threats in September 2017.
Ayyub, whose book “Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up” alleges government complicity in anti-Muslim violence during the 2002 riots – when Modi was chief minister of Gujarat, has been targeted by Hindu nationalists.
Since April 21, fake tweets attributed to Ayyub implying she “supported child rapists” and “hated India” were shared across social media platforms.
She has also received threatening messages by phone.
“The evening before [April 21] I was on an Al Jazeera TV news panel debating the Kathua child rape [in Indian-administered Kashmir] … The messages were disgusting – ‘Go to her place, gang-rape her so she can understand how it’s done’,” Ayyub told Al Jazeera.
On April 23, Ayyub was sent a pornographic video with her face super imposed on an actor.
“I started crying. Nothing this sordid had ever happened to me. Screenshots of the video were posted everywhere on social media. My father, my friends were sent these images,” A