The Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) is shocked at the stalking and of journalist and NWMI member Neha Dixit and the attempted break in by unidentified persons into her residence. NWMI condemns all such attempts to intimidate and threaten media professionals and stands in solidarity with our colleague.
While the stalking has been going on since September 2020, an attempt was made to break into her residence at 9p.m. on January 25, 2021. The person ran away when the journalist raised an alarm. The next day, she filed a complaint with Vasant Kunj police station, Delhi.
In her complaint, Ms Dixit detailed how those who stalked her repeatedly called her up, using three or four different voices and over a dozen phone numbers. The callers monitored her movements and appeared to have her exact physical location, referred to her professional identity and work and threatened her with rape, acid attack and death. The caller had also threatened to kill her partner and documentary film-maker Nakul Sawhney.
Neha Dixit, an award-winning journalist, was trolled and faced online harassment and death threats after the publication of her five-part investigative report entitled ‘Operation #BabyLift” on the trafficking of 31 young tribal girls by the Sangh Parivar from Assam to other states in violation of the law in Outlook magazine in July-August 2016. Retribution following the publication of the series was swift, with the magazine’s editor Krishna Prasad, being forced to resign as a result. While members of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological organization of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), gave statements against the journalist, BJP associates filed cases on charges of defamation and incitement to communal disharmony against her in Assam.
This instance is the latest in a long list of cases of women journalists being harassed and trolled for their work. Apart from Neha Dixit, right wing trolls have launched online attacks and issued rape and death threats to writer activist Meena Kandaswamy, editors Anuradha Bhasin, Dhanya Rajendran, journalists Kavin Malar, Rana Ayyub, Supriya Sharma and Barkha Dutt, to name just a few in the recent past.
There has been little or no effective investigation into these cases or any condemnation of such online harassment by members of the ruling dispensation, giving rise to suspicion that these harassers are given free rein under its watch. In the absence of a strong message against such criminal tactics, there is a chilling effect on investigative journalism and media freedom.
The NWMI condemns these continued attempts to silence the work of journalists and intimidate them with rape and death threats. The NWMI demands that police conduct a thorough investigation into the complaint and move swiftly to book the culprits.
The NWMI stands in solidarity with all media professionals who are targeted for their work and affirms that the powerful voices of women journalists and writers who investigate and challenge the status quo will not be silenced.