Activist and author Arundhati Roy criticised mainstream Indian media at a press conference held at the Press Club in Delhi on Thursday.
"The people who have the audacity to call themselves journalists or television anchors are spineless pets on a saffron leash drawing massive corporate salaries destroying lives of people. We would not be in this state of fascism if it was not for the Indian media," Roy said.
The conference titled 'Democracy dies when its streets fall silent' was organised under the banner Concerned Citizens Collective by several activists against the criminalisation of dissent and the ruling by the Supreme Court on 7th October.
In the ruling SC had said that public places cannot be occupied indefinitely for protests and protest should be carried out in designated areas. The judgement was passed on a petition filed by advocate Amit Sahni against the anti-citizenship law protests in Delhi's Shaheen Bagh.
JNU professor Nivedita Menon said the Supreme Court's judgment "that protests must be safely museum-ised, is a parody of democracy."
Condemning the criminalisation of dissent, Bezwada Wilson, convenor of Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA) Convenor spoke, "You die of hunger but do not tell it out. So if I say it out, then they say you are dissenting, you are a terrorist and anti-national.When atrocities are happening on Dalits and Adivasis and marginalised minorities communities in the country, what is happening in our police stations? They are not filing FIRs. For them to launch an FIR, we need to do an andolan. When you do injustice consistently, why won't I talk?"
Nadeem Khan, an activist of the NGO United Against Hate, accused of conspiracy in Delhi riots, condemned the selective action of the police and the witch-hunt of activists and students.
"In 2016, Najeeb Ahmed, a student of JNU, went missing. When Najeeb's mother went to file an FIR in Vasant Kunj police station, the station-in-charge was talking on the phone, 'Do not worry, we are not going to do anything about the case', she was dragged and beaten on the streets",
A week ago, four years got over since Najeeb's disappearance. The same Delhi police which has issues with United against Hate and the activists in Delhi said in court that we couldn't open the pattern locks of the phones of the accused and hence enquiry cannot go further. This is the same Delhi police which seized over 300 phones of activists and interrogate them day and night."
Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav, Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan and Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde also attended the conference.