Jan 9, 2023
Journalist and Critic of Indian Government Faces Sham Charges Designed to Silence Her Transcript
Indian journalist and Washington Post contributor Rana Ayyub is one of the main critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government. Read the transcript here.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Amna Nawaz (00:00):
Indian journalist and Washington Post contributor Rana Ayyub, one of the main critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government has long been a target of trumped-up investigations, hate speech, and online harassment. She recently won the highest award for press freedom from the National Press Club in Washington, but is now headed back to India to face trial for sham charges of money laundering. She says it’s the latest attempt of the government to silence her and is emblematic of what journalists in India face.
She joins us from Dubai. Now, Rana, you’re welcome to the News Hour. Thanks for joining us. You’re returning home to India to face these charges. A court has summoned you, that’s why you’re returning. And in summary, I guess we can say, they allege that you’ve mishandled money that you raised for victims of COVID-19. I know the legal case is ongoing, but what can you tell us about these charges?
Rana Ayyub (00:48):
Well, Amna, it’s not the first time that allegations against me have been leveled by the government of India. They have leveled money-laundering charges against me. They have leveled tax-evasion charges against me. They have accused me of misusing funds, which they have not been able to prove. And I’m not the only one. Money laundering has become the latest tool for the Indian government, the latest charge that the Indian government has been leveling against all journalists, critics, and activists in India. Indian journalist Sidheeq Kappan has been behind bars for the last two years for a story he did not report. And just when he was about to be freed by the court, the Enforcement Directorate filed money-laundering charges against him. The conviction rate of this charge against people is less than 1%, and that speaks volumes of what this case means.
Amna Nawaz (01:38):
We should note the Committee to Protect Journalists, other journalism groups, even a United Nations body has called this judicial harassment when it comes to the cases and charges against you. Specific to your charges, I’m wondering, why do you believe that the government has set its sights on you?
Rana Ayyub (01:54):
I have been critical of the government. I have written cover stories on the Modi government and his rule since 2014, the fact that he has not taken a single press conference in the last eight years. I’ve been calling out his Hindu nationalism, the attack on the 220 million Muslim minorities. In the World Press Freedom Index rating, India has gone from 142 to 158th position. And Amna, I’m not the only one. I’m still like, I consider myself a privileged one because I’m able to speak to you and point out the illegalities in my case. Journalists in Kashmir are being arrested under Public Safety Act for their journalism. They’re not even allowed to leave the country to collect their awards, even for that matter, their Pulitzer awards. So that’s where we are. The journalists in this country have become the enemies of the state right now.
Amna Nawaz (02:40):
We should note, too, you’ve had your bank account frozen previously, you’ve been prevented from traveling previously, as well. You mentioned you’re not the only one, though. This is not just about what the government and government officials have lodged against you. There’s been an online campaign, as well. You faced threats there. Tell me about that. How bad is that?
Rana Ayyub (02:57):
Well, Amna, sometimes I feel like deleting my Twitter account. I’ve actually started self-censoring myself because the moment I tweet even a word, the kind of replies that I get are nauseating. My image has been morphed on a porn video and circulated all over the country. My phone number has been circulated on social media, my address has been put out there. Burned copies of my book have been sent to my residence. One of India’s leading journalists, Gauri Lankesh, was shot dead in 2017 because she was… allegedly by Hindu nationalist. Till today, we don’t know who killed her. And I do remember that two days before she was shot dead, I remember she called me and she was telling me about the online hate against me, saying, “Babe, these are all paper tigers. They don’t attack.” And yet two days later, she was shot dead. So, I mean, whether it’s online, there’s offline, I feel like it’s relentless. And the only target is to basically silence us into submission and silence us from speaking the truth.
Amna Nawaz (03:55):
Rana, you are scheduled to go back to India. What are you worried will happen when you do return?
Rana Ayyub (03:59):
I don’t know. I feel like a lot of people said, “Don’t go to India. There are so many sham charges against you.” I believe this is my truth, and I’m heading back to India because that’s my country and those are the stories that I want to report and I will report. The people who are doing this do not want me to return to India and do not want me to do the stories that I do, but it is my moral obligation and moral responsibility that I continue doing this and talking about what’s happening in India to the rest of the world, which is why I’m going. What happens is, again… I’m completely out of depth at this point of time, so I will leave that to probably the judiciary and see what happens from here. But I can say this, that my truth will not stop, my journalism will not stop, my quest for justice will not stop.
Amna Nawaz (04:44):
That is Indian journalist Rana Ayyub joining us tonight. Thank you.
Rana Ayyub (04:48):
Thank you, Amna.