Of late, two incidents took place on the same day in two different parts of the world- a murder and a court verdict- with a surreptitious warning that the present world is not for those who vouch for truth.
Daphne Caruana Galizia, the investigative journalist who exposed the shocking details of high-level corruption and illicit wealth of numerous politicians to the outside world, through the leaked ‘Panama Papers’ was killed on Monday in a bomb blast near her home in Malta. Her death deeply pains the truth-seekers good. The cowards who were infuriated by the articles and news stories she brought to light planted bombs in her car which exploded and claimed her life. Daphne’s zeal for truth is often described as One-woman WikiLeaks. Her exposures have landed several heads of nations, top political leaders and the mafias into trouble. It even led to the toppling of prominent people including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawas Sharif. Daphne had recently disclosed that Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister of Malta, which is Europe’s smallest country, and his closest aides amassed illicit wealth from Azerbaijan. The uproar it created might hints to the dark hands behind her murder. Global media expressed shock over the murder pained by the visibly shrinking boundaries of freedom of expression. The South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN), an association of professional journalists, editors and bloggers opined that that the incidents of violence against journalists, media houses and social media activists points towards the dangerous reality of the field.
The powerful have always desired to eliminate means that expose details to the outside world in an honest manner. The order issued by the Allahabad Court against an online portal ‘The Wire’ recently is a perfect example of the reality that those in power will go to any extent to slaughter or silence the journalists and media houses that divulge the truth. The Wire published an investigative report detailing the sudden increase in turnover of a company owned by Jay Shah, son of Amit Shah after the Narendra Modi government came to power. Shah hit back with a defamation suit of Rs 100 crore. The court ruled in favour of Shah directing that no reports related to the matter should be published. It was the Additional Senior Civil Court in Mirzapur, Allahabad that passed the order against The Wire. Given the existing notion that almost all courts are willing to issue orders and verdicts as per the wishes of PM Modi and party chief Amit Shah, it’s pointless to waste time analyzing whether the verdict is genuine. The news ban has been imposed without sending notices to the rival party or hearing their versions. Although the website has decided to approach the higher court against the order, the democratic society shouldn’t watch the happenings as mere spectators. Barbarous deeds akin to that of an undeclared emergency are what is being displayed by those in power and those operating behind them.
The most number of martyrs are created in the battlefield of media and not during warfare. During these demonic times when autocrats, anti-democrats and corporate mafias rule the world, the reality emphasized is that conveying truth to the people is extremely challenging. Neither the authorities nor their aides who thrive in corruption and illicit wealth would desire truth and actual facts to reach the people. For the regressive forces that politically exploit events by igniting communal sentiments and fostering animal instincts of hatred and animosity, they are particular about concealing all the tactics and strategies from the outside world. It’s the fear of the public conscience realizing their cheapness. Gauri Lankesh, senior journalist and activist lost her life for coming out strongly against those unleashing hate politics in Karnataka. Santanu Bhaumik, a young journo was murdered in Tripura for revealing to the world the shocking pictures of illicit connections between the terrorist groups and Sangh parivar forces. All these incidents of violence warns that the field of media will now onwards have to face a different set of challenges compared to earlier times. In short, it’s high time we thought about ways to safeguard the freedom of expression, which is surely the essence of democracy.