The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI) on Wednesday, 21 October, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to take "immediate steps to ensure that journalists can work without harassment and fear of reprisal".
"We also call on you to direct the state governments to drop all charges against journalists, including those under the draconian sedition laws, that have been imposed on them for their work," the letter read.
This comes after a "number of cases filed against journalists have increased enormously after the spread of the pandemic," the letter stated.
"The number of cases filed against journalists have increased enormously after the spread of the pandemic. The health crisis [pandemic] is being used as an excuse to silence those who have exposed shortcoming in the government's response to it… A free media is essential to a successful public health response," the letter read.
The two organisations wrote, "The use of sedition laws to harass independent, critical journalists is not only a gross violation of the country's international commitments, it is also an attempt by the government to silence any criticism. Journalistic work cannot be equated to sedition or undermining security."
They also mentioned that as many as 55 journalists were targeted for covering the pandemic in India between 25 March and 31 May, citing a report by Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG).
Meanwhile, the Editors Guild of India on Wednesday criticised the Delhi Police for a "brazen attack…on a journalist [Ahan Penkar] of The Caravan magazine while he was carrying out his duty as a member of the press".
The Estates Department of Jammu and Kashmir on October 19 sealed the office of Kashmir Times in a government building at Press Enclave. The owners of one of the oldest English dailies in Jammu and Kashmir claimed that "no prior notice was given to them".