August 20, 2023

Hundreds of Eminent Citizens Express Solidarity with Newsclick

MORE than 700 people have signed a statement on August 16, 2023, in solidarity with the online news portal Newsclick. The signatories include senior journalists, leaders of people's movements, judges, lawyers, academics, scientists, writers, artists, filmmakers, actors and other concerned citizens. They include John Dayal, N Ram, Prem Shankar Jha, Siddharth Varadarajan and M K Venu (founding editors, The Wire), Sudheendra Kulkarni, P Sainath, Vaishna Roy (editor, Frontline) Bezwada Wilson (national convenor, Safai Karmachari Andolan), Aruna Roy (Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan), Sanjay Hegde, Justice K Chandru, Colin Gonsalves, Prashant Bhushan, Harsh Mander, Syeda Hameed, K Satchidanandan, Jerry Pinto, Damodar Mauzo, Romila Thapar, Sumit Sarkar, K M Shrimali, Tanika Sarkar, Prabhat Patnaik, Utsa Patnaik, Jayati Ghosh, CP Chandrashekhar, Zoya Hasan, Jean Dreze, Ratna Pathak Shah, Naseeruddin Shah, Anand Patwardhan and many other eminent personalities.

The signatories mentioned that they take strong exception to the spurious accusations levelled against the online news portal Newsclick and its founder and editor-in-chief, Prabir Purkayastha, based on claims published in a New York Times report. The NYT report does not allege any violation of law by Newsclick. Since its inception, Newsclick has provided critical coverage of government policies and actions and their adverse impact on the lives of millions of our countrymen and women, focusing particularly on the struggles of the most oppressed and exploited sections of our society, its workers and peasants. It has sought to articulate their anguish and distress and to highlight the role of people’s movements of all hues fighting for social justice. It has also carried reports that critically analyse international events seen through the often differing perspectives of individual authors. The hounding of Newsclick is an attack on the freedom of expression enshrined in our constitution. It is an attack on the conscientious role of independent journalism in a democracy to inform its readers about the government's failings and to hold the government accountable. It is an attack on the right of the people of this country to information that can enable them to fight against injustice. Unfortunately, in the era of corporate-owned media, the space for independent journalism that is free of corporate influence has shrunk. It is all the more unfortunate that a vicious media trial is being staged although investigation into the allegations brought against Newsclick are in court. We strongly protest the targeting of Newsclick and express our solidarity with the struggle to defend our constitutional right to freedom of speech.