PSL Statement: End the repression and smears against Newsclick!

Newsclick, a popular left media outlet based in India, has been targeted by intensifying right-wing smears in an effort to suppress this leading publication. This effort aims to shut down those who speak out in the interests of poor and working people, and especially those who stand against the new Cold War being pursued by Washington. The Party for Socialism and Liberation demands an end to the repression that Newsclick has been subjected to.

The latest round of attacks on Newsclick are rooted in an article published two weeks ago in the New York Times, which falsely suggests that the site is part of a global effort to spread “Chinese influence” around the world. Citing this article, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Modi’s far-right BJP party gave a speech denouncing Newsclick as “anti-India” from the floor of parliament. A few days later, Twitter baselessly suspended Newsclick’s account. 

These are textbook tactics in right-wing repression. A progressive media outlet is being labeled disloyal to the nation, with a secret allegiance to a heavily demonized foreign power. According to this ridiculous logic, political views critical of capitalist inequality, environmental devastation, or warmongering aggression cannot possibly be arrived at sincerely — it must be rooted in a cynical manipulation by some outside force.

And this is not the first time Newsclick has been targeted. Officers of India’s Enforcement Directorate raided the headquarters of Newsclick and the personal homes of leading staff in 2021 on false allegations of financial irregularities. Editor in Chief Prabir Purkayastha was subjected to an agonizingly long interrogation, being held in his house and questioned for 113 hours. 

Newsclick’s detractors cannot point to a single instance of the outlet publishing a falsehood. In fact, Newclick’s journalistic integrity sets the standard for all others. They have been on the cutting edge of many crucial stories, including the massive Indian farmers’ protests in 2020 and 2021. While fundamentalist fanatics in the country’s ruling party are attempting to cast doubt on basic facts like evolution or the origin of modern technology, Newsclick has emerged as a leading defender of science and reason. Purkayastha himself is an accomplished scientist and engineer. The publication’s entire outlook is in conflict with the increasingly repressive Modi government, which is seeking to impose its Hindu nationalist worldview on society. 

With the U.S. government hell-bent on plunging the world into a new Cold War scenario, a new McCarthyism is rearing its head. Anyone who questions the ruling class consensus that China poses an existential threat and must be treated with hostility is vulnerable in this suffocating atmosphere. We stand with all targets of this smear campaign the world over and refuse to be intimidated by those who want to criminalize advocating for peace.

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