When Has the Indian Press Truly Been Free?

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When Has the Indian Press Truly Been Free?

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

I

ndian journalism is facing something of a crisis. After our dismal ranking of 138 out of 180 on the World Press Freedom Index, the most recent shockwave to send tremors through the foundations of the fourth pillar has been the high-profile resignation of two members of ABP News’ editorial team. The exodus began on Wednesday, when the channel announced that its editor-in-chief Milind Khandekar was resigning after holding the post for 14 years. Shortly after, news anchor Punya Prasun Bajpai also made his exit from the channel, while another anchor, Abhisar Sharma, was “sent on leave”.

Last month, the channel ran a story on Bajpai’s primetime show Masterstroke, about a farmer named Chandramani Kaushik from Chhattisgarh, and how she’d been tutored to exaggerate claims about the profits she’d from her crops during a video interaction with PM Narendra Modi. When Union Ministers Raghavendra Rathore and Nirmala Sitharaman challenged the reports on Twitter, ABP News ran a follow-up story, refuting the BJP’s rebuttals. Soon after, broadcasts of Masterstroke began facing disruptions, with signal disappearing during the show’s airtime. It was not long after that Khandekar and Bajpai parted ways with the channel.

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