PEN Delhi and PEN International are deeply concerned about ongoing threats against Neha Dixit, an award-winning journalist whose ground-breaking investigative reporting has shone an important light on political, social justice and gender issues in India.
Since September 2020, Dixit has received numerous threatening phone calls from unknown individuals who have disclosed a knowledge of her exact location and threatened her with rape, acid attacks, and murder in retaliation for her work as a journalist. These threats have been made from over twenty phone numbers and Dixit has identified three to four different voices, raising concerns of a highly organised intimidation campaign against her. The callers have also threatened to kill her partner Nakul Singh Sawhney, who has been attacked previously for his work as a film maker.
On 25 January, an unknown intruder attempted to break into Dixit’s house before fleeing the scene when confronted. Dixit has filed a complaint with the police who have reportedly began an investigation.
PEN Delhi and PEN International find the threats to Dixit deeply alarming given the spate of recent murders of journalists, writers and activists like Gauri Lankesh, MM Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare. In its most recent Global Impunity Index, the Committee to Protect Journalists ranked India among its list of the worst countries in the world when it comes to failing to prosecute the killers of journalists.
More recently there have been efforts to silence journalists through the use of the India's legal system, as seen through the use of FIRs (First Information Reports) against journalists for simply reporting on the ongoing farmers’ protests taking place across the country. The Editors’ Guild of India has come out strongly against this punitive form of censorship.
We urge the authorities to protect journalistic freedom, which is essential to any democracy. We ask that they investigate the threats against Neha Dixit and act swiftly to bring the perpetrators to justice. For a democracy to be able to function it is imperative that journalists and writers are able to do their work without the threat of physical harm and/or death hanging over their heads.