An Indian minister has sharply criticised The New York Times (NYT) for “spreading lies” about India after the organisation published an opinion piece on the freedom of the press in Jammu and Kashmir.
Anurag Thakur, the federal minister of information and broadcasting under Narendra Modi’s administration, accused the US-based daily of “nourishing a grudge” against the prime minister.
The NYT opinion piece criticised the central government in India of “repressive media policies”, “intimidating media outlets into serving as government mouthpieces”, and creating an “information vacuum” in Jammu and Kashmir.
“The New York Times had long back dropped all pretensions of neutrality while publishing anything about India. NYT’s so-called opinion piece on freedom of press in Kashmir is mischievous and fictitious published w/ [with] a sole motive to spread propaganda about India and its democratic institutions and values,” the minister tweeted.
He added that this was “in continuation with what NYT and a few other like-minded foreign media have been spreading” about India and its democratically elected prime minister.
“Some foreign media nourishing a grudge against India and our prime minister Shri Narendra Modi have long been systematically trying to peddle lies about our democracy and pleuritic [sic] society,” Mr Thakur said.
“Freedom of press in India is as sacrosanct as other fundamental rights,” the minister said. He said “Indians will not allow such mindsets to run their decisive agenda on India soil”.
India ranked 150 among 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index in 2022.
The opinion piece titled “Modi’s final assault on India’s press freedom has begun” was a guest article authored by journalist Anuradha Bhasin. It alleged that the central government in India was curbing the flow of information in the Kashmir region.
The federal Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir has remained a flashpoint amid controversial claims of land control by Pakistan and been a fertile ground for tensions springing due to terrorism and religious discord between the Hindu and Muslim populations.
“Democracy in India and we the people are very mature and we don’t need to learn grammar of democracy from such agenda driven media,” Mr Thakur said.
This article was amended on March 11 2023. It originally said the criticism of the NYT was in relation to an article it published on the alleged arming of civilians in Kashmir, but this was inaccurate. The article in question was in fact an op-ed on press freedom in Kashmir published on the same day.