USA (Commonwealth Union)_ The National Press Club of Washington DC, honored Indian journalist Rana Ayyub with the famous John Aubuchon award, which is the Club’s highest award for press freedom. Ayyub is a vocal opponent of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies. Ayyub, who is a columnist at the Washington Post, has been harassed and threatened due to her critical coverage of the Modi regime. The Post published a full-page advertisement in favor of Ayyub earlier this year, stating that “the free press is under attack in India.”
Following the announcement of her name in July 2022, Ayyub dedicated the honor to her fellow inmates who are languishing in jails around the nation. She stated, “Dedicating this to my colleagues Mohammad Zubair, Siddique Kappan, and Asif Sultan incarcerated for speaking truth to power”. While delivering her acceptance speech, Rana Ayyub stated that India no longer had a free press. She added, “I’m here, trying to feel less alone at a time I feel very lonely. I happen to be a Muslim and a woman. How dare I speak? … Thank you for making me feel less alone & isolated.”
Ayyub, the 37-year-old journalist, started her profession as an investigative journalist and authored a book charging Prime Minister Modi of complicity in the 2002 sectarian violence in Gujarat, while he was the chief minister of the state. Several journalists have also reported an uptick in harassment under Modi, whose administration has been blamed for attempting to stifle critical reporting.
In its World Press Freedom Index, the Media rights group ‘Reporters Without Borders’ ranks India at a dismal 142, stating that under Modi, “pressure has risen on the media to toe the Hindu nationalist government’s line.” According to RSF, “The organized hate campaigns waged on social networks against journalists who dare to speak or write about topics that annoy Hindutva (hardline Hindu ideology) followers are horrifying and include calls for the murder of the concerned journalists. The campaigns are especially brutal when the targets are women.”