A recent outcry in India shows just how many fear this in Narendra Modi’s government after it accused three TV news networks of violating broadcasting regulations by airing interviews that criticised last month’s execution of Yakub Memon, the man convicted of financing the deadly 1993 Mumbai bombings. It even threatened to cancel the licenses of the channels for violating broadcasting laws.
Memon’s execution was controversial – there were reports that he had been betrayed by Indian authorities after being coaxed into surrendering. He had also spent two decades in prison as legal proceedings dragged on. His execution triggered a debate on the death penalty and “selective justice” in India. His mercy pleas were rejected twice by the president and appeals to suspend the execution were discarded by the Supreme Court, the last time in an unusual early morning hearing.
But in what many journalists see as a crude form of censorship, a terse directive was issued by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, which has Orwellian echoes in a country that prides itself as the world’s largest democracy. It argued the broadcast interviews contained content which “cast aspersions against the integrity of the president and judiciary”