SANSAD News-release Sept 16, 2016

Deplore the silencing of journalists

SANSAD strongly deplores the ongoing effort to censor journalists critical of the policies of the Indian government and to manipulate the media addressing the South Asian diaspora in Vancouver, BC.

On September 6, 2016 Shiv Inder Singh, an independent journalist working out of Punjab and reporting on several radio stations across Canada, published an open letter protesting his arbitrary suspension as a daily reporter on Radio Red-FM in Vancouver, BC for his criticism of Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

Mr. Shiv Inder Singh had been working on Radio Red-FM since 2014, providing daily reports and commentary on political developments in India. He has been critical of the rise of religious intolerance under Mr. Modi and the poor human rights record of his ruling Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

Lately Mr. Singh had found himself in on-air altercation with the host of an evening show and had brought this to the attention of the CEO of the radio station without finding any redress. The conflict had come to a crisis on July 27, when Mr. Singh criticized the politics behind the Government of India’s celebration of the anniversary of a minor military incident between India and Pakistan. Following this Mr. Singh found himself suspended without explanation and received no satisfaction when he sought one from the CEO. Some Vancouver-based individuals who approached the CEO regarding the matter were told that Mr. Singh had been taken off air because of complaints regarding his criticism of Narendra Modi and the Indian Army.

This is not the first incident of such silencing. In 2014 Gurpreet Singh, a respected journalist who had been working in Radio India as a host since 2001 had to resign when he was reprimanded for interviewing the organizers of a Sikh group planning a protest against the visit of Narendra Modi to the US to address the UN following his election as Prime Minister of India. Mr. Modi previously had been banned from visiting the US after the pogrom against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 when he was the Chief Minister of the state. Gurpreet Singh was ordered to praise Modi instead of allowing airtime to his critics, compelling his resignation.

SANSAD believes that journalistic independence and freedom of the press are essential foundations of democracy and utterly deplores all attacks on journalists and press freedom. The silencing of Shiv Inder Singh and Gurpreet Singh is deplorable as an attempt to remove any critical perspective from the media serving the South Asian diaspora.

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South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD), www.sansad.org

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