Prashant Bhushan. Illustration: smishdesigns.
Prashant Bhushan. Illustration: smishdesigns.

The myth of mainstream

On the dangerous trajectory of state institutions and popular media in India.

Every other day or so, it seems, news from India confirms our worst fears about the state of journalism and free speech in the country. Indeed, given the growing body of evidence, particularly since the ascendancy of Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014, one runs the risk of being repetitive and cliched even bringing up the issue. In this context, two recent events – the attack on reporters of The Caravan magazine in Delhi, and the Supreme Court verdict against activist and lawyer Prashant Bhushan – indicate the institutional nature of India's democratic descent.

On the afternoon of 11 August 2020, three journalists from the Delhi-based Caravan were physically attacked by a mob, which included a man who identified himself as a "BJP general secretary". One of the three journalists was a woman reporter who faced sexual harassment from the group. The journalists were following up a story in a neighbourhood in northeastern Delhi where Muslim residents had been subject to communal harassment a few days back. The reporters, too, faced Islamophobic slurs, after the attackers discovered that one of the reporters was Muslim.

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