How the foreign press is being silenced: The Foreign Correspondents’ Club

From visa uncertainty to deportation threats, foreign correspondents recount in surveys how Modi government is making it harder for them to report from India.

Arunabh Saikia

India’s tax crackdown on the BBC, weeks after it aired a documentary critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has made news around the world. But foreign correspondents based in the country say this is not the first act of hostility by the Modi government.

Privately, since 2019, they allege they have been facing visa uncertainty, denial of travel permits, even deportation threats, prompting them to conduct internal surveys to capture the extent of the harassment.

These surveys, which Scroll has seen, paint a picture of growing intimidation, which many respondents attributed to their critical reporting of the government. They said the government wanted to suppress coverage of the persecution of religious minorities in India and regions such as Kashmir and Assam.

Many left anonymous comments in the surveys stating that they had been “summoned” by officials and ministers and shown “files” and “spreadsheets” detailing their “negative coverage”.

A journalist working for a European news organisation recounted an instance of the Indian embassy in their home country emailing the publication, asking it “not to cover Muslim persecution”. (Scroll has reviewed this email sent by a senior Indian diplomat to the news organisation in 2020. Identifying details are being withheld on request.)

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Delhi has shared the findings of these surveys with the Ministry of External Affairs, officials on the board of the club said. “The discussions are ongoing,” one of them said, requesting anonymity. “The ministry has told us they will be taking up the issues with the relevant authorities.”…