India punishes critics by revoking visas and residency permits

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi often draws crowds of supporters from the Indian diaspora on his foreign visits. But back home, his administration has been revoking visas and residency permits of foreign nationals of Indian origin as well as spouses of Indian citizens. For those denied access or kicked out of India, the experience can be traumatic.


Vanessa Dougnac was at home in her New Delhi apartment on January 18, when she received a hand-delivered envelope that raised her spirits.

The French journalist glanced at the letterhead bearing the insignia of the Indian interior ministry’s Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) and immediately thought this meant good news.

“Then I read the letter. It was totally the opposite. It was really, really bad news,” she recounted. 

Dougnac, 51, had lived in India for a quarter-century, or most of her adult life. For 23 years, she served as the India-based freelance correspondent for a number of French publications. Along the way, she covered stories across the country, married an Indian national, raised a son, and mastered the ropes in the place she came to call home.

But in India, things that were once fairly straightforward were now getting complicated – and stressful.

The official letter, delivered on January 18, informed the veteran French journalist that her Indian residency had been revoked. 

Dougnac had joined the growing list of overseas critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist policies being banned from India, according to the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

They are part of the Modi administration’s broader crackdown on Indian citizenship laws, which have snowballed in various forms. But the intent of the “ever-expanding arsenal of laws and policies” is singular: to “target and punish dissenting voices”, said Amnesty International in a statement noting the international human rights contraventions that have increased during Modi’s 10 years in power.

With the upcoming 2024 elections widely predicted to propel Modi into his next decade in power, experts warn that India’s secular democracy is being reshaped as a Hindu-first majoritarian nation intolerant to dissent and minority religious communities. 

Citizenship lies at the heart of the reshaping, with the government pushing through laws and regulations on myriad fronts, upending lives and plunging dissenters into an omnipresent state of dread.

Diaspora with dollars to invest home

Dougnac was one of nearly 4 million people holding an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card, which comes as a light blue, passport-lookalike and confers on the holder visa and residency rights.

The OCI is a form of permanent residency granted to people of Indian origin and their spouses. © Handout

Since India does not permit dual citizenship, OCI cards are provided for the equivalent of $275 to foreign nationals of Indian origin and the spouses of Indian nationals or OCI card-holders.

The residency status is the latest iteration of a decades-long bid by successive governments to tap into the economic potential of the Indian diaspora, the largest in the world, clocking nearly 18 million in 2020, according to UN figures. It’s also among the wealthiest, with strong ties to the motherland. In 2022, for instance, India’s inward remittances hit a record of almost $108 billion, around 3% of GDP, more than in any other country.

Attracting the diaspora’s dollars without offering citizenship rights historically entails acronyms in India. NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) before the 1990s gave way to PIOs (Person of Indian Origin) before the nomenclature settled on the current OCI. The latest overseas “citizen” of India is a misnomer since holders do not have voting rights or citizenship guarantees. But since the OCI privileges were an improvement on the earlier NRI and PIO categories, few made any fuss.  

That was until the government began tinkering with citizenship and visa regulations after Modi was re-elected in 2019 to a second term in office.

Many acronyms, few rights 

Just months after Modi’s May 2019 re-election, the Indian parliament, dominated by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), passed a controversial citizenship amendment law, which gained notoriety as the country erupted in what was commonly called “anti-CAA” (Citizenship Amendment Act) protests.

File photo of anti-CAA protests in Shaheen Bagh, New Delhi, taken January 18, 2020.
File photo of anti-CAA protests in Shaheen Bagh, New Delhi, taken January 18, 2020. © Altaf Qadri, AP

The new law, which offers citizenship to non-Muslim migrants and refugees from neighbouring countries, was widely criticised for discriminating against Muslims, an allegation the Modi government denies.

While the anti-CAA protests drew international press coverage, the insertion of a subclause covering OCI cancellations passed largely unnoticed.

As Modi nudged past the half-way mark of his second term, the regulations got tighter. By 2021, the government required its overseas “citizens” to apply for “special permission” to “undertake” research, journalistic, missionary or mountaineering “activities”.

So on January 18, when Dougnac received a letter from the Foreign Regional Registration Office (FRRO), she initially thought she had finally received her journalist permit, which was denied in September 2022, for no stated reason.

For the freelance journalist, the denial of a journalist permit meant a precarious dip in her income and she was eager to get back to work.

But that was not to be. The FRRO letter revoking Dougnac’s OCI instead accused her and her articles of being “malicious” and of harming “the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India”. The notice put the onus on the freelance journalist, requiring her to respond to why her OCI should not be cancelled. 

Dougnac has launched a petition in the Delhi High Court, adding to the legal appeals and challenges launched by several others in a similar state. But nearly a month after she received her notification, Dougnac was forced to leave the country she had made her home for 25 years and return to France. 

In a statement released February 16, the French journalist noted that it had become “clear that I cannot keep living in India and earning my livelihood. I am fighting these accusations before the competent forums and I have full faith in the legal process. But I can’t afford to wait for its outcome. The proceedings with respect to my OCI status have shattered me,” she noted.

‘Showing animus’ to governments, not country

The list of shattered lives has been increasing over the past few months, perpetuating a climate of fear among overseas Indians. An investigative report published on February 12 by Indian news site Article 14 found that more than 102 OCIs were cancelled under section 7D between 2014 and 2023.

Many targeted OCI-holders prefer not to speak to the press out of fear of scuppering their appeals process and being permanently deprived of the ability to travel to a country where many have families, including aging parents and ailing loved ones.

Some high-profile cases do make the news, such as British-American writer and journalist Aatish Taseer, whose OCI was revoked in 2019, shortly after Time magazine published his excoriating cover story, “India’s Divider in Chief”, on Modi’s brand of Hindutva populism.

Indian authorities said Taseer’s OCI was revoked because he “attempted to conceal” the fact that his biological father was a Pakistani national. The journalist, who was brought up in India by his single mother and wrote a critically acclaimed book in 2009 on his journey to meet his father, Pakistan’s former Punjab governor Salman Taseer – who was assassinated two years after his son’s book was published – dismissed the claim.

The official cancellation explanations for the recent spate of OCI scraps include ill-defined allegations of “showing animus” towards India, or “attempting to destabilise the social fabric” of the country. 

“In some cases, the authorities have openly cited criticism of BJP government policies as evidence to revoke the visa status,” noted Human Rights Watch, citing the case of octogenarian British activist Amrit Wilson, whose OCI was cancelled due to her social media posts on the Kashmir crisis and a 2020-2021 farmers protest movement.

Indian authorities note that governments across the world have the discretion to grant or refuse visas to their countries. It’s a point that Meenakshi Ganguly, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, acknowledges. “Of course, every government has the right to determine who gets visas or not. But those rights cannot be based on discriminatory ideas,” she noted. “Any democracy relies on a foundational principle of permitting dissent. That is what distinguishes it from authoritarianism. Now all dissent and all ideas may not be accepted by the state. But the fact that those opinions are put forward should not be seen immediately as something that is against the country, it is against government policies, and governments change.”

‘I miss India’

In its attempts to ensure the government does not change after the 2024 general election, the Modi administration has been pushing through key campaign promises that are popular with the BJP’s Hindu nationalist base.

On March 11, just weeks ahead of the elections, the Indian government announced the implementation of the new citizenship law. While parliament approved the CAA in 2019, the Modi government held off on the implementation following deadly protests against a law that was widely viewed as discriminatory against Muslims.

Responding to the move, the US expressed “concern” with a State Department spokesperson noting that Washington is “closely monitoring how this act will be implemented”.

The concern was echoed by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. “As we said in 2019, we are concerned that India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 (CAA) is fundamentally discriminatory in nature and in breach of India’s international human rights obligations,” said a spokesperson.

The Modi administration’s response to the expressions of concern was forthright. The citizenship law was an “internal matter”, an Indian foreign ministry spokesperson told reporters in New Delhi, noting that the US State Department’s statement was “misplaced, misinformed and unwarranted”. 

But Ganguly believes the changes in citizenship and residency laws warrant the attention of India’s democratic allies, particularly those measures that affect their own nationals of Indian origins. “It needs attention from foreign governments, because there is a lot of interest in the Indian market and in strategic partnerships. Those are legitimate interests. But when they want to do business with India, foreign governments need to be aware that any claims of partnerships between democracies is seriously undermined if the government is going to be so repressive on freedom of speech and in cracking down on its critics,” she noted.

As India heads for critical elections, Dougnac is in France, watching the coverage from thousands of miles away. “I covered elections in India for 20 years. Now for the first time, I will not be there to cover it. I miss India,” she said. 

While her appeal works its way through the Indian courts, the French journalist confesses she’s still in a state of shock. “Really, it’s too emotional for me,” she confessed. “I led a life filled with adventures and interactions across the subcontinent, and had the opportunity to witness over two decades of India’s history. Now I’m in France, I feel like I’m in exile in my own country.”

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‘A cold cell for being a journalist’: Husband of US-Russian national Alsu Kurmasheva calls for her release

Alsu Kurmasheva is a dual US-Russian citizen and journalist who has been detained by Russia since October 18, charged with failing to register as a “foreign agent” despite having travelled to Russia for a family emergency. She faces up to five years in prison if convicted. Her husband has called for the State Department to designate her as “wrongfully detained”. “She is a US citizen and has the same rights as any US citizen,” he says.

Alsu Kurmasheva’s arrest is the most egregious instance to date of the abusive use of Russia’s foreign agents’ legislation against independent press,” the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in an October statement on her case.

Russia’s expanded law on foreign agents, which now vaguely defines them as anyone “under foreign influence”, has come under fire from human rights groups and media organisations since it entered into force on December 1, 2022. The law’s previous iteration required prosecutors to prove a “foreign agent” had received financial or other material assistance from abroad; the new measures give authorities much greater latitude.

Kurmasheva, an editor with the Tatar-Bashkir Service of US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) – sister station to Voice of America – lives in Prague with her husband and two teenage daughters. She traveled to Kazan, the capital of Russia’s Tatarstan, on May 20 to visit her ailing mother. She was awaiting her flight home at Kazan airport on June 2 when her name was called out over the loudspeaker. Authorities briefly took her into custody and confiscated both her US and Russian passports, preventing her from leaving the country.  

“At that point she wasn’t a suspect, but they took both passports and her phone,” said her husband, Pavel Butorin. “It wasn’t until a couple of days later that she was charged with not registering her US passport,” which is now a criminal offense in Russia. 

Kurmasheva completed the necessary paperwork but was made to remain in Kazan for the next four months, when she was eventually fined 10,000 rubles (about $105) on October 11 for failing to register her passport initially. She was still awaiting the return of her travel documents on October 18 when “big men in black” came to her door and took her away, Butorin said. 

She has been in detention ever since. 

No official word from Russia

Kurmasheva was formally charged on October 26 with the much more serious offence of failing to register as a foreign agent under the expanded law. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison. 

A Russian court ordered late last month that Kurmasheva remain in detention until December 5. 

“This offense that she has been charged with is not a violent crime,” Butorin said. “But the judge denied the request for house arrest pending trial.” 

The decision to charge her under the foreign agent statute is all the more surprising because she was travelling not as a journalist but on a family-related matter, he said. 

“She was there in her personal capacity on what was supposed to be a short trip, two weeks at the most, to help her mom.”

He suspects there is a “clear connection” between Kurmasheva’s detention and her role as a journalist, notably since Russia has designated the Tatar-Bashkir Service for which she works as a “foreign agent” media organisation. Much of her career, however, has focused on advancing Tatar language and culture

“She’s not an agent of any government, certainly not an agent of the US government,” Butorin said. “She’s a journalist. And we want her released as soon as possible.”

Butorin, who also works in media, is director of Current Time, RFE/RL’s 24-hour Russian-language TV and digital news platform. 

He said he hopes the State Department will see fit to designate Kurmasheva as a “wrongfully detained person”, which would allow her case to be transferred to the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA), unlocking both US resources and expertise. SPEHA was involved in the release of both Basketball star Brittney Griner and Marine veteran Trevor Reed from Russian detention last year.

A State Department spokesperson said it is “closely following” Kurmasheva’s detention and is continuing to push for consular access, but that “Russian authorities have not yet responded to our requests”.

Moreover, the State Department said it has “not yet been officially notified by the Russian Government of her detention”.

Asked whether Kurmasheva’s dual nationality was complicating her case, the spokesperson noted only that Russia is among the nations that may refuse to acknowledge the US citizenship of a dual national.

“Many countries do not recognize dual nationality” even if they do not expressly prohibit it, the spokesperson said in an email.

As a result, some “do not grant access to … US nationals in detention if they are also nationals of the country where they are detained”. 

Calls to #FreeAlsu have been making the rounds on social media. © Courtesy RFE/RL

Cold and overcrowded

Since Russia’s law on foreign agents first came into effect in 2012, Moscow has used it to punish government critics including civil society groups, rights NGOs, media outlets and activists. Russia has also been accused of detaining Americans simply to use them as bargaining chips in exchange for Russians held by the United States: Griner’s freedom was traded for that of notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Kurmasheva has been granted access to a lawyer but not visits or phone calls with her family, although her husband said she has been allowed to exchange (censored) letters with them over the prison’s official online system, “a paid system that takes only Russian cards”.

Only some of the conditions of her detention are known. Her prison is likely overcrowded and is certainly cold, Butorin said, noting that it is currently near 0°C (32°F) in Kazan and that Kurmasheva is not allowed to receive extra blankets from family or friends. 

“We’ve been without Alsu for close to six months now,” he said. “It’s a very unsettling situation.” 

As “free-thinking, independent girls”, his daughters are also struggling with the harsh reality of their mother’s plight. 

“It’s hard for them to comprehend that their mother is being held in a cold Russian prison cell just for being a journalist.”

Nevertheless, they are looking to the future.

“We have Taylor Swift tickets for the Eras Tour, and we have a ticket with Alsu’s name on it,” Butorin said. “I want us to go together as a family.” 

Alsu Kurmasheva has been held in Russian detention since October 18, 2023.
Alsu Kurmasheva has been held in Russian detention since October 18, 2023. © Pavel Butorin courtesy RFE/RL

Harassment of US citizens

“This appears to be another case of the Russian government harassing US citizens,” State Department spokesman Matt Miller said in October of Kurmasheva’s detention.   

Numerous US lawmakers, the UN human rights office, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the president of the European Parliament are among the international bodies demanding she be freed. 

Butorin said he would like to see Muslim nations joining these calls, given that Kurmasheva is a proud Tatar, part of a predominantly Muslim, Turkic-speaking minority in Russia.  

“I would very much like to see more involvement notably from Turkey, given Alsu’s Turkic origins, as well as the involvement of other Muslim nations in lobbying for her release,” he said. 

Media organisations have also joined the calls for her freedom. “We urge the U.S. government to immediately designate Alsu Kurmasheva’s imprisonment as an unlawful and wrongful detention. The Biden administration is taking too long to make this important designation,” the National Press Club said in a statement last week. 

Kurmasheva is the second US journalist currently being held by Russia, after Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was detained on espionage charges in March – the first time Russia had accused a US journalist of spying since the Cold War.

The State Department classified Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained” in April. 


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Morning Digest | Army officer injured in ‘grenade accident’ at a post in J&K’s Rajouri; supply copy of FIR to NewsClick founder, court tells Delhi Police, and more

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Morning Digest | 10 civilians dead, 22 army men still missing in Sikkim, rescue operations on; Media bodies write to CJI, call for norms on interrogation of journalists and more

A flood affected locality at Singtam, in Gangtok district, Wednesday, October. 4, 2023.
| Photo Credit: PTI

10 dead, 22 army men among 82 missing as flash flood wreaks havoc in Sikkim; PM Modi dials CM

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Iranian ‘hack’ targets citizens who send videos to foreign broadcasters

Hardline media outlets in Iran claim the country’s security forces hacked the Telegram channel of Iran International, a Persian-language broadcaster that has extensively covered the year-old “Woman Life Freedom” protests. The outlets claim the regime intercepted messages in which Iranian citizens sent amateur images related to the protests to the UK-based broadcaster for publication. The channel denies it was hacked, and a FRANCE 24 review of the supposedly intercepted messages found no evidence that any of the amateur content was ever broadcast by Iran International.

With a news blackout in place in Iran on the protests that followed the death of Mahsa Amini last September, many Iranians have turned to Persian-language media broadcasting from overseas. With independent media barred from working in Iran, such channels rely heavily on amateur images published on social media or sent in by Iranian citizens. Videos filmed by citizens and sent to these media outlets outside Iran have become the main source for many Iranians of independent information about what is happening inside their country.

In what appears to be an attempt to discourage these ties, media affiliated with Iran’s hardline Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have targeted Iran International, publishing what they say are messages in which Iranian citizens sent amateur videos for publication by the UK-based channel. Launched in the UK in 2017, the channel, which reportedly receives funding from Saudi sources, is one of the favourite destinations for amateur videos shot inside Iran. Iranian authorities have branded it a “terrorist organisation”.

Media affiliated with the IRGC, including the Fars News Agency, have published at least six online videos saying an unspecified “group of hackers” intercepted messages sent to Iran International.


Iran International denies the hacking. “I can state categorically that our Telegram account has not been hacked, or compromised in any way. It never has been. Such claims from the IRGC or its associates are false and are designed to frighten and intimidate people,” spokesperson Adam Baillie told FRANCE 24. “We are characterised by the Iranian authorities as a terrorist channel, which provides quasi-legal cover for threats against our staff and the harassment, often brutal, of their families in Iran.”

The designation of Iran International as a terrorist organisation means that Iranians accused of sending information to the channel could face severe penalties in Iranian courts.

A Fars News Agency alert about contacting Iran International television: “Alert to people who cooperate with enemy media”. © Observers


Alert to people who cooperate with enemy media

Media affiliated with the IRGC, including the Fars News Agency, have published at least six online videos saying an unspecified “group of hackers” intercepted messages sent to Iran International. The videos, posted since mid-September, feature amateur images supposedly sent to the UK-based channel via Telegram, along with screenshots of the senders’ messages and usernames with the account name blurred. The amateur images show protests and other anti-regime initiatives such as strikes by shopkeepers. 

One video, published on Telegram on September 15, showed screenshots of messages sent by a user named “Milad” in which he sent a video of an anti-regime protest along with this caption: “Aryashahr (a neighbourhood in Tehran), 17th or 18th Aban (September 8 or 9, 2022). Regime agents savagely beat up a young man.” FRANCE 24 was unable to confirm the sender’s identity or the context of the video, but Iranian web users suggested the claims of a hack were fabricated.

In a video published on X, formerly Twitter, on September 19, demonstrators chant: “The mullahs must go”.


Fars News Agency’s claim is BS

Iranian web users have been skeptical about the claims of a hack. “As someone who has sent many photos and videos [to Iran International], I can confirm Fars News Agency’s claim is BS,” said one tweet posted on September 20.


“If they had hacked the channel, they would have shown off about it by announcing they had hacked it and changing the profile picture,” another user wrote, referring to a common practice when the Iranian security forces hack into anti-regime accounts.

A third user wrote: “Hacking? That’s a joke! The IRGC fanboys can’t do anything more complex than basic HTML coding.”


Hacking Telegram is very difficult

Amin Sabeti is an Iranian cybersecurity expert based in London. He closely follows the activities of hackers close to the Islamic republic’s regime.

“In general, hacking the servers of a messaging app like Telegram is a very difficult task, not just for Iranians, but for any hacker in the world. The screenshots of the user messages supposedly sent to Iran International’s Telegram account are in a format that would only be visible by the Iran International Telegram account owner. I closely follow hackers working for the Iranian regime and I have never seen any indication that they are capable of directly hacking Telegram’s servers to access any account.

All the Iranian hackers have done so far is to trap the “end user”, using various techniques like phishing. For example, they send emails to account holders pretending to be from the Telegram company saying that someone is trying to hack your account or change your password.

There are two sides to the question of the safety of Iranians who turn to foreign media such as the BBC or Iran International. Concerning the news organisations, I know that the security measures of these media outlets are really good. They are up-to-date in keeping their accounts secure. That is why we have never had such a case so far.

The only possible problem, however, could be the Iranians who contact these news organisations, because they too need to protect their accounts. They need to update their apps and software, and make sure they do not have malware on their phones. And once they have sent their messages, they need to delete them themselves.”


No trace of the videos on Iran International accounts 

FRANCE 24 analysed the six video reports published by Fars and other IRGC-affiliated Telegram accounts. The IRGC reports featured more than 30 amateur videos supposedly sent to Iran International. The FRANCE 24 team then searched for other publications of the videos on social media, including archives of Iran International’s Telegram, X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram accounts over the last 12 months.  

Of the around 30 videos supposedly sent to Iran International by Iranian citizens:

  • None were published on Iran International’s social media accounts, including Telegram, X and Instagram.
  • Reverse image searches found no publication of the videos on other social media accounts. 
  • In at least in one case, the video could not have been recorded on the date it claimed because the environment is not the same as it was during the 2022 protests.

Video supposedly filmed in November 2022 was filmed in 2023

One video, published by Fars News on September 20, featured messages supposedly sent to Iran International in November 2022 by a Telegram user called “Nilo0o”. The supposed user sent a video showing closed businesses on a street with a caption saying: “General strike by the population in Rasht on 17 November 2022.” 

The video was filmed in the Golsar neighbourhood in the city of Rasht. It shows a bank, Melal Credit Institution, on Golsar Street between alleys 92 and 96, in a complex called the Blanca Palace. 


The video shows a bank, Melal Credit Institution, on Golsar Street in a complex called the Blanca Palace.
The video shows a bank, Melal Credit Institution, on Golsar Street in a complex called the Blanca Palace. © Observers


But other information indicates that the Golsar branch of the bank moved to that location in 2023. A video of Golsar Street filmed in January 2023 shows the same location vacant, with a banner giving contact information for the complex. 


This photo shows the same location vacant, with a banner giving contact information for the complex.
This photo shows the same location vacant, with a banner giving contact information for the complex. © Observers


Yellow Pages information indicate that Melal Credit had a branch at a different location on Golsar Street, 500 metres away near alley 109.


This photo shows that Melal Credit had a branch at a different location on Golsar Street, 500 metres away near alley 109.
This photo shows that Melal Credit had a branch at a different location on Golsar Street, 500 metres away near alley 109. © Observers


A posting by a business at that location in February 2023 said: ““I am the new owner at alley 109, pls Bank update your contact info!” 

A posting by a business at that location in February 2023 said: ““I am the new owner at alley 109, pls Bank update your contact info!”
A posting by a business at that location in February 2023 said: ““I am the new owner at alley 109, pls Bank update your contact info!” © Observers

The video supposedly intercepted by hackers could not have been filmed in November 2022.

If the regime succeeds in cutting this line, we will have a total information freeze

Bahram [not his real name] is an Iranian journalist who has been arrested or interrogated multiple times in recent years over his reporting on current affairs in Iran. He says that with widespread censorship in Iran, many Iranians turn to overseas broadcasters like Iran International for reliable news.

Iranians now record everything with their mobile phones: strikes, protests, police violence … and send the videos to organisations that will publish them. The amateur videos people send to overseas broadcasters are our only source of information. If the regime succeeds in cutting this line of communication, we will have a total information freeze in our country. We will not know what is going on: we’ll know absolutely nothing.

The regime has done its best to drive us into such a blackout. They have blocked social media, but people use VPN proxy servers to get access.

They have tried to discredit these media or activists through propaganda smear campaigns. Now the latest attempt is to scare people. They’re saying: “If you send them something, we will find you, so don’t send them anything.” However, I am not sure it will ultimately benefit the regime. Maybe in the short term people will hesitate for a few days to send videos to this or that media or activist, but in the long term I think nothing will change. You will not give up your water source, no matter how tiny it is, in a desert.

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Who in the EU gets to decide what can or cannot be said online?

By Dr Norman Lewis. Former Director at PwC

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

Let the court of public opinion decide what is truth, information or disinformation. For that, we need more free speech, more freedom, certainly not the censorious DSA, Dr Norman Lewis writes.

A spectre is haunting Europe — not of communism, but of state censorship. In the name of fighting disinformation, the European Commission, through its Digital Services Act (DSA), is about to fundamentally alter what can be said or shared on the Internet, the public square of the 21st century.


The DSA, passed last year and whose major provisions will come into force next month, is a law ostensibly aimed at regulating Big Tech’s control over online content. 

Many people have embraced it. Investigative journalist Julia Angwin expressed this well in a piece in the New York Times where she welcomed this “bold experiment” as “the most extensive effort toward checking the power of Big Tech”. 

“For the first time, tech platforms will have to be responsive to the public in myriad ways”, she stated.

However, the DSA has little to do with public responsiveness or accountability. No European citizen has voted for it, or indeed, even had the opportunity to debate it. The DSA has been designed to be solely responsive to the needs of the unelected European Commission.

Big Tech vs Big Public

The DSA’s alleged goal of curbing the power of Big Tech’s control over the public square is a disingenuous charade. The attack on disinformation is just a code word for the EU political elite’s real fear and loathing of the public, whom they see as stupid enough to be duped by social media messages telling them who to vote for or who to hate.

Big Tech might be the foil, but curbing the Big Public is the real target of the DSA.

Of course, the European Commission cannot insult European citizens directly. But they can do so through an attack on Big Tech. Flaying Big Tech for publishing disinformation is a way of flaying the “social” in social media.

From the moment Brexit happened, the EU pushed the idea that lies had won it, not the truth. European Commission President at the time, Jean-Claude Juncker’s underlying message was that the general public in the UK must have been sufficiently stupid to believe whatever lies the politicians fed them. 

Juncker warned of the threat of “galloping populism” across the continent, which sounds genuinely frightening, except when you understand that the danger was that millions of Europeans started voting for parties and policies not approved of by the Brussels elite.

Do Eurocrats know their electorate?

Brexit and then the election of Donald Trump represented a cultural revolt that shook Brussels to its foundations. The near-total rejection of the values of the ruling elites by a sizeable section of the electorate is the genesis of the DSA. 

Instead of questioning their top-down values and technocratic managerialism, the EU elite has focused on the wisdom of allowing the revolting masses to pass judgment on them from below. 


The lesson learned was that they needed to control what Europeans could read, see or hear if they were to avoid similar “mistakes” in the future. Hence, the DSA.

The DSA institutionalises the narrative that social media is responsible for the rise of populism in Europe. Eurocrats sincerely believe that the European electorate are gullible apathetic pawns at the mercy of Internet trolls and bots and, thus, should be protected for their own good. 

It betrays an underlying defensiveness of the Brussels machine and its frail authority among the European electorate. 

Their barely disguised disdain for the masses expresses itself in a wish to regulate the electorate’s thoughts and actions by controlling social media content. The EU leaders as puppet masters neatly sums up their contempt for the European electorate.

Who is watching the watchers?

The defensiveness of Brussels fuels a powerful authoritarian dynamic too. The DSA is like the English Crown licensing system of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, where nothing could be legally printed without the approval of the Star Chamber, a secret court of the king’s councillors and judges and the official Stationer’s Company. 


Today’s Star Chamber of the European Commission and their unaccountable and unelected flaggers of disinformation will act as judge, jury and executioners on policing social media. 

We are back in Ancient Rome when poet Juvenal asked in his Satires, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”: who will watch the watchers?

If anyone doubts the censorious authoritarian dynamic of the DSA, then the recent behaviour of the European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Bretton should give them pause for thought.

On a recent visit to Silicon Valley, this is the Commissioner who declared, in the manner of King Louis XIV: “I am the enforcer. I represent the law, which is the will of the state and the people.” 

In the wake of the riots that gripped France earlier this month, the EU’s technocratic Sun King went on French television to declare that from 25 August, social networks will be obliged to immediately delete what is identified as “hateful content” or “[content] which calls for revolt” under penalty of being immediately barred from France if they did not comply. 


Remarkably there was little comment on a Brussels Commissioner, not a French-elected politician, behaving like North Korea’s leader, threatening to end any public debate about deeply worrying developments in the country simply by curbing the possibility of free speech in France.

We should be able to say whatever we want online

The EU always claims to be upholding European values. The DSA upholds the divine rights of the European Commission to regulate what can or cannot be said online. 

But Europe needs to return to the values of Baruch Spinoza, the Great Dutchman of the Enlightenment, who laid the moral and intellectual framework for the modern ideas of freedom. 

Spinoza’s trailblazing epitaph of free speech, “in a free state, every man may think what he likes and say what he thinks” — which assumes that we all have the ability to judge what is true or false — is what Europe needs to embrace. 

Let the court of public opinion decide what is truth, information or disinformation, not Big Tech nor the unaccountable European Commission. For that, we need more free speech, more freedom, certainly not the censorious DSA.

Dr Norman Lewis is a Visiting Research Fellow at MCC Brussels — Mathias Corvinus Collegium and Former Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at [email protected] to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

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Chinese stand-up comedy warned to toe the line following viral joke about army

A Chinese comedian was severely punished on Wednesday for making a joke about the People’s Liberation Army and his production company fined roughly two million dollars. This incident demonstrates that Chinese censors are now turning their attention to the small but growing world of stand-up comedy in China, which until now has enjoyed a certain measure of freedom.  

On May 17, Chinese authorities imposed a record fine of 14.7 million yuan ($2.13 million) on the production company that employed comedian Li Haoshi and opened an investigation against him.  

Li, whose stage name is “House”, “seriously insulted the army” and thus dealt a heavy blow to “national honour” and “patriotic feelings”, said the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism which imposed the fine on Shanghai Xiaoguo Culture Media.  

Six words too many 

“This is the first time that a joke about the army has been punished in China,” said Olivia Cheung, a specialist in contemporary Chinese political history at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. 

This is a severe punishment for a joke that “may seem totally harmless and not necessarily very funny”, said Marc Lanteigne, a Chinese studies professor at the Arctic University of Norway.

The joke in question invoked Li’s two adopted stray dogs chasing a squirrel:  “Normally, when you see dogs, you find them very cute at first. But when I looked at them, six words came to me: ‘Maintain exemplary conduct, fight to win’.” 

Reports do not indicate whether it made the audience laugh. However, what is known is that the scene was filmed and posted on social media, where it triggered an avalanche of comments.  

The problem is that “it is a direct and literal reference to what has been the official slogan of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) since 2013,” said Lanteigne. “Xi Jinping himself came up with the slogan and has used it on numerous occasions to refer to the modern army he established,” said Cheung. 

The first part of the slogan, about discipline, refers to the government’s campaign to bring the army into line in the mid-2010s. “The army had a reputation for being very corrupt before Xi Jinping came to power, and he boasts that he put an end to this and brought discipline back into the ranks,” explained Cheung. 

There is also the idea that the PLA is now “able to win victories” as a result of the modernisation reforms implemented by the Chinese president. “It was, and remains, one of Xi Jinping’s priorities and he believes that the Chinese army now deserves the utmost respect thanks to his efforts,” said Cheung. 

The crime of insulting Xi Jinping 

Li thus tripped up twice over. First, he made the mistake of joking “about a subject that affects the president personally”, said Cheung. Second, he compared the army to dogs. This is a risky choice, as these animals are seen in China as “cute but dirty, and better not to have too many around”, said Lanteigne. This is not the kind of metaphor that the government wants to see being used in any sort of media to describe the military.  

However, some Chinese people felt that imposing a two million dollar fine was excessive and took to social media to question the “double standards” demonstrated by the authorities, reported the New York Times. These internet users recalled that a company selling false negative Covid-19 test certificates during the lockdown period was only fined the equivalent of $10,000 dollars.

“It’s clear that this is not just about punishing the comedian for his joke, but about making an example of him for everyone in order to establish a new red line that must not be crossed,” said Lanteigne. 

He sees this punishment as part of a “tightening of restrictions on freedom of expression in recent years”. China has long had a reputation for being heavy-handed when it comes to censorship, but it “began cracking down even harder during the health crisis”, added Lanteigne.  

The Chinese authorities realised during the height of the Covid crisis that there were still issues with their information control strategy. Censorship failed to silence the people of Shanghai, who were confined for more than two months in the spring of 2022 and criticised the authorities in the viral video “Voices of April”

In this respect, stand-up comedy was still a haven of relative freedom of expression in China. This form of humour only recently burst onto the Chinese media scene. For a long time, stand-up comedy was perceived as less dignified than other traditional forms of live performance, as it “is considered a Western import”, explained Lanteigne. 

Thwarted freedom of expression in Chinese stand-up 

As a result, there were only a few dozen stand-up clubs in the country where comedians could perform in 2018, wrote the China Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper. In other words, not enough to worry Beijing. Since then, they have rapidly increased in number, with comedians performing on 179 stages across the country. 

One of the reasons for the craze is the popularity of television shows like “Rock & Roast”, which make millions of viewers laugh every week. China’s “zero-Covid” policy has been a boon for comedians, who are now popular with TV stations eager to brighten up the lives of Chinese people under confinement, reported the Financial Times

Li has benefited from the buzz, appearing several times on “Rock & Roast”, helping to “make him a star”, according to the New York Times. 

This star status made him the ideal target for Beijing to get its message across. The authorities used to tolerate “caustic” humour “as long as the criticism was aimed at local authorities and referred to the minor administrative hassles of everyday life”, said Lanteigne. 

But when it comes to subjects of national importance  such as the military  comedians are now required to “abide by laws, maintain ethical values and provide the public with nutritious spiritual food”, said the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism. 

This record fine is, in a way, the price of the success of stand-up comedy in China. Comedians’ voices did not carry far when there were only a few hundred of them in 2018. But now that there are officially more than 10,000, Beijing has decided to designate them as actors of official propaganda, as are the state media and film industries. 

Li was hit hard by this new reality. Despite his apology, the China Association of Performing Arts, the body that manages live performance in China, has called for a total boycott of all his shows. 

This article has been translated from the original in French

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Iranian journalists remain imprisoned for reporting on Mahsa Amini’s death

Issued on:

Iran is one of the most repressive countries in terms of press freedom, according to an annual report released Wednesday by Reporters Without Borders, which ranked it 177th of 180 nations. Since the September 2022 death of Mahsa Amini in police custody in Tehran, 72 journalists have been arrested and 25 remain imprisoned, most of them women. FRANCE 24 takes a look at the cases of two journalists who remain behind bars over their reporting on the young Kurdish woman’s death.    

Two distraught parents embraced in the empty corridor of a hospital in Kasra, Tehran. They had just learned that their 22-year-old daughter Mahsa Amini had died, three days after being arrested by the morality police for “improperly” wearing her hijab.

Journalist Niloofar Hamedi has been held for more than seven months by the Iranian authorities for capturing this silent moment in a photograph and making it public. A correspondent for the reformist daily newspaper “Shargh”, Hamedi was the first to break the news of the young Kurdish woman’s death on September 16, 2022, by posting the photograph on Twitter.

The post provoked an unprecedented wave of unrest and several months of demonstrations against the Iranian authorities.

Arrested at her home by intelligence agents on September 20, the 31-year-old journalist was not given a trial before being put behind bars, according to Jonathan Dagher, head of the Middle East Office of Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières or RSF), which published its annual report on press freedom on Wednesday.

Journalist Elahe Mohammadi, 35, is also being held at Qarchak prison south of Tehran. A writer for the reformist daily newspaper “Hammihan”, she was arrested on September 29 for going to Amini’s home town of Saqez in Iranian Kurdistan to cover the young woman’s funeral, which gave rise to the first demonstrations following her death.

The Iranian judiciary confirmed in April that the two women were indicted on charges including collaborating with the United States, undermining national security and spreading anti-state propaganda. The two women were formally accused in October of being agents for the CIA.



Symbols of the ‘Women, Life, Freedom’ movement

Denouncing these “grotesque accusations”, RSF has demanded the release of the two journalists. In Iran, charges of espionage are punishable by death.

Hamedi and Mohammadi’s cases are of particular concern: “Both have become emblematic of the repression of press freedom in Iran, but also of the (Women, Life, Freedom) movement. They are journalists and women. So they are symbols on many levels. That’s why the Iranian government treats them much more severely,” says Dagher. “Iran tends to punish journalists who are the first to reveal information more severely, and make an example of them for other women and journalists,” adds Dagher.

Nine other female journalists are being held by the authorities, including eight arrested since the uprising that followed Amini’s death. “This is unprecedented in the country and one of the highest figures in the world,” says Dagher, noting that female journalists are being targeted “because they play an important role in covering this movement, especially in giving a voice to women who are at the forefront of the protest”.

RSF says a total of 72 Iranian journalists have been arrested since Amini’s death on September 16, with 25 still behind bars. The incarcerations earn Iran seventh place among the countries detaining the most journalists, with China in the top spot followed by Myanmar, Vietnam, Belarus, Turkey and Syria.

Released but under pressure

But even for released journalists, “deliverance can become a threat in itself, with sentences that act like swords of Damocles hanging over their heads”, says Dagher.

This is the case for Nazila Maroofian, another female journalist who investigated Amini’s death. She was sentenced without trial to a two-year suspended prison term for “spreading false news” and “anti-government propaganda” after spending 71 days in prison. Maroofian, who is from the same city as Amini, was targeted by the Iranian authorities for publishing an interview with her father on the news website “Mostaghel Online”.

Others were released in exchange for signed confessions – “statements of remorse”, or promises not to cover certain events or stories – reports RSF.

One of these journalists was Ali Pourtabatabaei, who worked for a local news website in Qom, located 140km south of Tehran, and was one of the first to reveal that young girls were being poisoned using an unidentified gas in schools across the city in November 2022.

Pourtabatabaei was arrested on March 5 amid controversy over the ongoing wave of poisonings. After several weeks in detention, “on the day of his release, the government asked journalists not to cover this story because it was upsetting the public, demanding that they rely only on official sources for all information”, says Dagher.  

Under these conditions, many Iranian journalists have been forced to flee the country. To manage the influx and provide assistance, RSF set up a crisis unit. Several have since settled in France, others in Canada, the United States and Turkey. But even there they are not safe from intimidation.

“Their families continue to be pressured in Iran,” says Dagher, who has collected several personal accounts to this effect. Other journalists have been informed by foreign intelligence services that they are potential kidnapping targets and so have been strongly advised not to travel to countries bordering Iran, including Turkey.

This article has been translated from the original in French.

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African, international news outlets appeal for press freedom in Mali and Burkina Faso

FRANCE 24 and its sister radio RFI have joined a group of 30 African and international news organisations and monitors in an appeal for press freedom in Mali and Burkina Faso. The news outlets and rights groups call on the authorities of these two countries and the international community to put an end to the pressure and threats against national and foreign journalists. They urge the transitional governments in Mali and Burkina Faso to respect their countries’ international commitments to uphold freedom of expression, in particular the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The open letter, whose signatories include Jeune Afrique, Mali’s Joliba TV News and Burkina Faso’s L’Observateur Paalga, coincides with World Press Freedom Day on May 3. It is addressed to the Malian and Burkinabe authorities, as well as the wider international community.

The signatories voice their concern about threats to freedom of expression and the press amid increasing pressure and death threats targeting national and foreign journalists in both countries. “Measures taken by the authorities in Burkina Faso, especially in recent months, are liable to undermine the public’s fundamental right to be informed,” they write in the collective text. “Freedom begins where ignorance ends,” they add, recalling the recent arrests and imprisonment of journalists and opinion leaders in Mali.

>> Read more: Armed groups, juntas create dangers for journalists in Sahel

“In both Burkina Faso and Mali, these attacks are increasingly amplified on social media by ‘influencers’ who support the military regimes in these two countries, who play the role of dispensers of justice and issue death threats against journalists and opinion leaders they regard as overly independent,” reads the letter, signed by several press freedom watchdogs – such as the International Francophone Press Union (UPF) and the Union of West African Journalists (UJAO) – and rights advocacy groups including Human Rights Watch.

The “establishment of a regime of terror”, to quote L’Observateur Paalga, “is accompanied by a wave of fake news flooding social media with falsehoods”, the signatories add, noting that “the victims of these ‘influencers’ are the people of Mali and Burkina Faso, who are deprived of a democratic debate.”


Acknowledging the “complexity of the political, geopolitical and military context” in both counties, as well as their “crucial duty to inform the public”, the 30 signatories add: “The fight against terrorism must not in any way serve as a pretext for imposing a new reporting standard and restricting the fundamental rights of the Malian and Burkinabe public to seek and access news and information through professional and independent media.”

The open letter was drafted under the coordination of the Sub-Saharan Africa bureau of Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Open letter on protecting journalists and defending freedom of expression and press freedom in Mali and Burkina Faso

For the attention of:

● The President of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union

● The President of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS

● The President of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of WAEMU

● The Chair of the African Union Commission

● The President of the ECOWAS Commission

● The President of the WAEMU Commission

● The President of the Pan-African Parliament

● The UN Secretary-General

● The President of the UN Human Rights Council

● The Director-General of UNESCO

● The Secretary-General of the OIF

● The heads of the media regulatory bodies of the 15 ECOWAS countries

● The President of the Francophone Network of Media Regulators

● The President of the Platform of Broadcasting Regulators of WAEMU member countries and Guinea

● The Ministers of Communication of the 15 ECOWAS member countries

● The Chair of the African Broadcasting Union

What with calls for journalists and opinion leaders to be murdered, threats and intimidation against the national press, grotesquely fabricated accusations against journalists, the suspension of local broadcasting by French international news outlets RFI and FRANCE 24, and the expulsion of reporters with the French newspapers Libération and Le Monde – the threats to freedom of expression and press freedom are very worrying in Burkina Faso. Measures taken by this country’s authorities, especially in recent months, are liable to undermine the public’s fundamental right to be informed. Freedom begins where ignorance ends.

Journalists and opinion leaders are increasingly subjected to harassment and intimidation in Mali as well. In November-December 2022, television network Joliba TV was suspended by the High Authority for Communication (HAC) after it broadcast an editorial deemed critical of the authorities. This year, the Maison de la Presse in Bamako was ransacked on February 20, while Mohamed Youssouf Bathily, a radio columnist better known by the pseudonym Ras Bath, was charged and imprisoned on March 13 for denouncing former Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga’s “assassination”. Rokia Doumbia, the influencer also known as “Rose vie chère”, was arrested on March 15 for referring to inflation and the transitional government’s “failure”. The journalist Aliou Touré was abducted by masked gunmen on April 6 and was not found until four days later.

Here too, the international press is far from being spared. In February 2022, a Jeune Afrique reporter was deported from Bamako. A month later, RFI and FRANCE 24 were silenced throughout Mali.

In both Burkina Faso and Mali, these attacks are increasingly amplified on social media by “influencers” who support the military regimes in these two countries, who play the role of dispensers of justice and issue death threats against journalists and opinion leaders they regard as overly independent. Lies are now being added to the violence. The “establishment of a regime of terror”, as Burkinabe daily L’Observateur Paalga wrote, is accompanied by a wave of fake news flooding social media with falsehoods. The victims of these “influencers” are the people of Mali and Burkina Faso, who are deprived of a democratic debate.

Amid what is a serious security crisis in both countries, journalists are all aware of their crucial duty to inform the public. They also understand the complexity of the political, geopolitical and military context. They also live and suffer the serious consequences of this security crisis. Like all citizens, they want a quick return to peace. However, the fight against terrorism must not in any way serve as a pretext for imposing a new reporting standard and restricting the fundamental rights of the Malian and Burkinabe public to seek and access news and information through professional and independent media.

In Burkina Faso, the situation of journalists has become so critical that even the entity in charge of regulation is alarmed. In a press release published on March 29, the Superior Council for Communication (CSC) said it “notes with regret the recurrence of threats against media outlets and media actors” and asked the authorities to “take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of the media and journalists in the course of their work.”

On April 6, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said he was “deeply troubled” by the restrictions on the media in Burkina Faso. “In this period of transition, protection of independent voices is more necessary than ever,” he added.

On February 20, Alioune Tine, the UN independent expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, said he was “extremely concerned about the restriction of civic space and freedom of expression and association” in Mali.

In the light of all these facts, we, the signatories of this open letter,

● Urge the authorities of Mali and Burkina Faso to put an end to all measures that undermine press freedom.

● Note a lack of protection by the security forces and silence from the judiciary in response to the intimidation campaigns and death threats against journalists in these two countries. While respecting the independence of justice, we call on prosecutors and police officers to respond more to such acts, which are punishable under criminal law.

● Call on the authorities of these two countries to guarantee the protection and safety of all media professionals who are the victims of threats, intimidation, harassment and physical attacks.

● Call on the authorities to carry out impartial, effective and independent investigations to shed light on abuses committed against journalists, and to identify and prosecute those responsible.

● Call on both governments to respect the international obligations signed and ratified by their countries regarding freedom of expression and press freedom, in particular the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

● Call on the national authorities and pan-African and international bodies to whom this open letter is addressed to support this initiative at the highest level. Access to news and information is a fundamental right of peoples. On World Press Freedom Day, it is essential to defend and protect it.



1. AfrikaJom Center

2. Burkina Faso Journalists Association (AJB)

3. Association of Online Press Publishers and Professionals (APPEL Senegal)

4. Norbert Zongo Cell for Investigative Journalism (CENOZO)

5. Norbert Zongo National Press Centre (CNP-NZ Burkina Faso)

6. Courrier confidentiel (Burkina Faso)

7. Federation of African Journalists (FAJ)

8. International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

9. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

10. France 24 (France)

11. Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)

12. Human Rights Watch (HRW)

13. International Press Institute (IPI)

14. Jeune Afrique (France)

15. Joliba TV News (Mali)

16. Le Pays (Burkina Faso)

17. Le Monde (Burkina Faso)

18. (Burkina Faso)

19. Le Reporter (Burkina Faso)

20. L’Événement (Burkina Faso)

21. Libération (France)

22. L’Observateur Paalga (Burkina Faso)

23. Radio France Internationale (RFI)

24. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

25. Burkina Faso Society of Privately-owned Press Publishers (SEP)

26. Omega Médias (Burkina Faso)

27. International Francophone Press Union (UPF)

28. Union of West African Journalists (UJAO)

29. (Burkina Faso)

30. Wakat Sera (Burkina Faso)

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Morning Digest | Tripura goes to the polls today; merchandise exports fall for 2nd month in a row, and more

Women poll officials head toward their respective polling stations for the Tripura Assembly elections, in Agartala, on Feb. 15, 2023.
| Photo Credit: PTI

Tripura voters hold the winning card as State goes to the polls today

A triangular contest—between the BJP, the Left Front-Congress combine and new entrant Tipra Motha—is on the cards in a majority of the 60 Assembly seats in Tripura, which goes to the polls on February 16. Of these 60 seats, 20 straddling a tribal council are reserved for the State’s 19 Scheduled Tribes, while 10 are reserved for the Scheduled Castes. 

Freedom of speech within Parliament is of utmost importance: Rahul Gandhi

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, according to sources, has filed a detailed reply to the notice sent to him by the Lok Sabha Secretariat in connection with a privilege motion moved against him by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey.

I-T action on BBC has ruined India’s image, alleges Congress

Mounting a scathing attack on the Narendra Modi government over the income-tax (I-T) department’s survey on BBC offices in India, the Congress on Wednesday asked what image the Prime Minister wishes to convey to the world, especially when India is hosting the G-20 summit later this year.

Labour Ministry asks EPFO to speed up work on higher pension

As the deadline set by the Supreme Court for submitting joint options of employees and employers to claim higher Provident Fund pension is ending on March 4, the Union Labour Ministry has sent a letter to the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) asking it to expedite the process so that those who want to claim a higher pension based on higher salary can avail the option. The Ministry has asked the EPFO to spell out the procedures for submitting joint options for those who retired after September 1, 2014, and subscribers of the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) who are currently working.

Uttarakhand Cabinet approves compensation policy for the disaster affected people of Joshimath

The Uttarakhand Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposed policy for compensation on the permanent displacement of land and buildings of disaster affected people in land subsidence hit Joshimath town.

Indigenous carrier INS Vikrant will be fully operational by year-end: Navy Chief

The country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, which is currently undergoing aviation trials, will be fully operational by year-end. All-out efforts are on to make it fully operational by the end of 2023, Navy Chief Admiral R. Hari Kumar said on Wednesday. The indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA-Navy) and Mig-29K carried out their maiden landings on the carrier earlier this month.

Governor should not enter the political arena of alliance-making: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said Governors are not supposed to venture into the political arena of alliance-making among parties. A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud made the oral remark when Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Maharashtra Governor, dwelt on how the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena had left the “principled” pre-poll alliance between the BJP and the Shiv Sena to join the “opportunistic” post-poll alliance of the Maha Vikas Aghadi with the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress.

Dalit student death | Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle demands IIT-Bombay Director’s resignation

The Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC), a student body on the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay campus, on Wednesday demanded the resignation of the institute’s Director Subhasis Chaudhuri after the death of 18-year-old Dalit student Darshan Solanki. After the parents of Solanki, who allegedly died by suicide, spoke to television reporters about caste discrimination faced by him at IIT-B, the APPSC criticized Mr. Chaudhuri for “failing to create safe spaces for Dalit, Bahujan and Adivasi students despite being aware of what they faced”. 

Ladakh Statehood demand | Protest calendar ready, says former BJP MP

Hundreds of Ladakh residents gathered in Delhi on Wednesday to demand Statehood and constitutional safeguards for the Union Territory. The representatives from both Kargil and Leh asserted that when Sikkim with a population of only 2.5 lakh could be granted Statehood, the same could be done for Ladakh which has a population of around 3 lakh (as per 2011 Census). 

Merchandise exports fall for second month in a row; trade deficit eases to a year-low

India’s merchandise exports fell for the second month in a row this January, with the value of shipments slipping 6.6% to $32.91 billion, but the trade deficit eased to the lowest in a year at just $17.75 billion, thanks to a concurrent dip in imports. 

China must take a haircut on its loans to poor countries, says India’s G20 Sherpa

China must agree to take a haircut on its loans to poor countries and assist their economic recovery, India’s G20 Sherpa has said, in a rare, direct reference to Chinese debt of developing nations.

China says U.S. balloons flew over Xinjiang, Tibet, warns of countermeasures

China said on Wednesday that U.S. high altitude balloons flew over its Xinjiang and Tibet regions, and that it will take measures against U.S. entities that undermine Chinese sovereignty as a diplomatic dispute festered.

World Bank says President Malpass to step down on June 30

World Bank President David Malpass will step down on June 1 after more than four years at the helm of the multilateral development bank, the bank said on Wednesday. Mr. Malpass was appointed by then-President Donald Trump.

Women’s T20 World Cup | Deepti, Richa shine as India beat West Indies by 6 wickets

Deepti Sharma shone with the ball before Richa Ghosh led India to a six-wicket win over West Indies in their Women’s T20 World Cup Group 2 match here on February 15. Deepti spun a web around the West Indies batters to restrict them to 118 for six after being asked to bowl.

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#Morning #Digest #Tripura #polls #today #merchandise #exports #fall #2nd #month #row