10 Feb 2021
Reports of raids by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the offices of web-based news and current affairs portal Newsclick and the residences of its editors and director have shocked many in the media, civil society and all those working to strengthen critical thinking and scrutiny of government policies in the public interest. Newsclick’s coverage of various issues in science and technology (S&T), and public policies related to S&T, have provided an alternative and informed perspective from that of the government as well as from much of the mainstream media especially in TV. The All India Peoples Science Network (AIPSN) is deeply appreciative of the insightful, useful and evidence-based coverage of the governmental policies and responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, including an interactive dashboard on Covid-19 data both in India and worldwide. In recent times, Newsclick has also provided valuable coverage of the farmers’ struggle and informative articles by experts on issues related to the struggle.
AIPSN is deeply disturbed by these ED raids on Newsclick. Newsclick has stated that it is confident of proving its innocence on all charges alleged by ED. These raids, in timing and circumstance, can only be viewed as part of a pattern of governmental suppression of critical voices in civil society and the media in general through a variety of coercive means. ED and similar agencies are now seen to be regularly used as partisan tools of intimidation and vindictiveness. Strangely, such actions always are targeted only against voices critical of government policies.
AIPSN has been active nationwide in making the public aware of these dangerous trends, especially targeting Universities, the media, civil society and public intellectuals. These trends have serious implications for the Constitutional obligation to develop critical thinking and a scientific temper among the people. As a network of people centred science movements, AIPSN is acutely aware that science itself cannot thrive if critical thinking is suppressed in any and all spheres. AIPSN has been annually observing 20th August as National Scientific Temper Day, the date of the murder of well-known campaigner for scientific temper and against superstition, Dr.Narendra Dabholkar, followed soon after by the similar murders of Govind Pansare, M.M.Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh, all probably by the same extremist hindutva group determined to silence voices of rationality, critical thinking and scientific temper.
At this crucial crossroads of our nation’s history as a vibrant, diverse, secular and democratic society, AIPSN expresses its solidarity with Newsclick and other independent media outlets and journalists and urges the Government to not strangle voices of democracy so essential for Science.
For clarifications contact:
P.Rajamanickam, General Secretary, AIPSN
firstname.lastname@example.org, 9442915101 @gsaipsn