Media muzzling in India

Media muzzling in India

Police in New Delhi arrested 61 years old freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma on the flimsy charges of espionage on Saturday. It has been alleged that the journalist was in possession of some sensitive documents relating to Indian defense department, which were to be passed on to Chinese intelligence officer. One Chinese woman and her Nepalese partner have also been arrested for allegedly supplying “huge amount of money” to Rajeev Sharma to get the required information for providing it to the Chinese intelligence. Deputy Commissioner of New Delhi Police Sanjee Kumar Yadev claimed in statement that Rajeev Sharma has disclosed about his involvement in obtaining secret and sensitive information for onward transmission to Chinese handlers.

The arrest of Indian journalist, Chinese national and her Nepalese partner is a sort of false flag operation in the context of India’s lopsided relations with its neighbours. The BJP government is not revealing the whole truth to the people about escalated tension with China. Now freelance journalists, who dare inform people, are the target as print and electronic media has already been regulated to toe the government line.

Tension between India and China has gone up along the un-demarcated border in Himalayan region. About 3400 kilometer long border has not been clearly demarcated. The ill-defined border has resulted in skirmishes between the troops of both countries. In June, India lost 20 soldiers in a fight with China in Galwan Valley. The battle was fought with sticks and clubs and not guns. Since then, India and China are deploying more troops and bring tanks and other weapons along the Line of Actual Control. They have also stepped up efforts to build road infrastructure to the ill-defined border. India’s construction of a new road to a high altitude airbase has irked China, which is seen as one of the main triggers for clash in Galwan Valley on June 15.

The Indian leadership has remained secretive, by and large, about the rising tension with China along the Line of Actual Control, except making vague accusations. In August, India accused China of provoking hostilities twice within a week. China denied it and blamed the standoff on India. In early September, China accused India of firing shots at its troops and India responded with allegations of firing in the air by Chines troops.

New Delhi has built a new road to connect Dharchula in the state of Uttarkand to Lipu Lekh Pass, near to actual Line of Control with China; besides building an airbase close to this line. The link road passes through Kalapani, which is a disputed territory between India and Nepal. Indian government claims that new road infrastructure will provide a shorter route for pilgrims to Kailash-Mansarovar. However, the real intention is to keep an eye on China as Lipu Lekh Pass is on the actual Line of Control. Hence, its strategic dimension cannot be ignored. It merits mention that India has strategic partnership with the United States (US), a component of China’s containment policy of the latter. US led World Order is dying and the China led is emerging. Darchula-Lipu Lekh Pass road has created tension between India and Nepal on the one hand and with China on the other. The arrest of Nepalese partner of a Chines woman explains it.

Arrest of freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma is violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN General assembly in December 1948. Let us hope that UNESCO Committee for the journalists’ protection and the non-governmental organisation Reporters San Frontieres will take notice of the arrest of Indian journalist on the allegations of spying for China and make sustained efforts for his release.

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