A reputed Kannada news portal Naanugauri(dot)com has been banned from Facebook since Friday. This means that none of the content from the website can be shared on Facebook by any means.
The news portal was launched in April 2018, six months after the murder of activist journalist Gauri Lankesh and has quite a following on social media.
Why this attack?
In what can be seen as yet another attack on Progressive, Ethical, and Responsible Media, the news outlet, naanugauri(dot)com has been banned from Facebook from the early hours of 24th July 2020.
While speaking with gaurilankeshnews.com, Muttu Raju, the subeditor of naanugauri(dot)com, said that they have covered news about BJP-MLA from Karkala Sunil Kumar and a critical review of One-year BJP rule in the state in the last issue( please visit naanugauri website to check these two articles in kannada). The issue with BJP MLA Sunil Kumar questioned if the BJP MLA is using the cement allotted for government projects to build his new bungalow. The BJP MLA did not like the news and had managed to get a stay on publishing news unfavourable to him.
This is not the first time that BJP MP and MLAs have used the media gag order to stop publishing news that might hurt their reputation. Last year Tejasvi Surya, BJP´s candidate from Bangalore South managed to get a court order on Friday which bars 49 media houses from publishing “defamatory” articles about him. Tejasvi had approached the court after publications ran stories about him allegedly abusing women.
We have been critical of governments whenever their actions are against the interest of people. We have seen when any news is not favourable to the BJP supporters, they troll and put abusive comments on our Facebook page and on our website. But atleast we could still publish our news and analysis articles. But the present situation should be seen as an attempt from the RSS-BJP and its Sangh Parivar outfits to wrongfully report our website on Facebook.
It is unbelievable that Facebook has chosen to block all the content from a responsible media without intimating the outlet about the same or even citing the reasons for such moves. The Gauri Lankesh Media team has written to Facebook about the same against it.
Similar censorship on the online portal of the Kannada daily Vartha Bharati had occurred twice in June 2017. After much uproar, Facebook had apologized for wrongfully blocking Vartha Bharathi and had called it a “technical error.”
Another attack on Progressive media houses?
While most of the print and television media for long has been ruled by the capitalist forces combined with regressive ideologies, progressive journalism managed to make a space for itself with the advent of the internet and social media platforms.
While many such attempts have mostly attended to the English readers and audience, most of India still gets its news in the regional languages. This makes the need for progressive journalism in regional languages all the more important. Naanu Gauri is one of the very few progressive media outlets in Kannada. This is not just an attempt to stifle journalistic voice but a serious blow to regional and vernacular media which is already in danger.
The BJP led governments have actively worked to curb the rights of journalists and attacked the very idea of journalism being a watchdog of the government. One such attempt was made when it introduced unacceptable measures like Media Policy in Jammu and Kashmir recently which sought to diminish the media and journalism as an outreach medium for the government and make it a puppet under the hands of the political forces, normatively against which it must be dissenting.
This attack must be understood to be a project undertaken by the fascist and Brahmanical forces like RSS-BJP and its stooges that have worked alongside capitalistic forces like Facebook whose understanding of community guidelines stands questioned not just in India but across the world. While hatemongering pages and fake accounts continue to spread hate, violence, fear, and communalism through Facebook, it is only a measure to ensure that dissent and constitutional claims do not reach the people.
With Section 144 in place almost across the country and the draconian laws put in place under the garb of health emergency to prevent any dissenting voices on streets had left the citizens of the country with internet and social media as the only fora to voice out concerns and dissent. In the wake of the governmental attacks on websites for criticizing the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act, the regressive political forces in the country have conspired to keep progressive thoughts away from social media too.
It is our duty as concerned citizens to not remain silent for such kind of media gags and fight for the remaining pro-people news organisations.