Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is facing criticism for not calling out a journalist accused of spying for foreign countries against India.
Gandhi is currently in the United States (US) for a three-city tour to mobilize support for his election campaign against the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.
The journalist in question, Vivek Raghuvanshi, used to work with a US-owned news website called Defense News and covered politics, business, and technology for the website. Raghuvanshi is accused of spying for foreign countries and sharing details about DRDO's defense projects with intelligence agencies of foreign countries.
During an interview at the National Press Club in Washington DC, Gandhi received a question from the host, who happened to be a colleague of Raghuvanshi. The host raised concerns about the deteriorating press freedom in India, using Raghuvanshi's arrest as an example.
While Rahul Gandhi accused the Narendra Modi government of restricting press freedom, he did not specifically call out the host or Raghuvanshi, who was recently arrested for spying against India. The Congress leader stated, "Definitely, there is a weakening of democracy".
Speaking at the event, Gandhi mentioned, "The fact that there is a weakening is not hidden. Everybody knows that; it's apparent in India. The rest of the world will see it." Gandhi further emphasized, "I think press freedom is very critical for democracy. One should be open to criticism, one should listen to criticism; that's the feedback loop that builds democracies".
Critics have pointed out that while Gandhi discussed the weakening of democracy and emphasized the significance of press freedom, he did not address the specific case of the host or disavow the notion that this is a case of press freedom, but rather espionage against India. This has drawn criticism and raised concerns about his stance on the matter.
Earlier on 16 May, the CBI raided twelve locations in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan in connection with the case and detained one of Raghuvanshi's associates as well.
A CBI spokesperson, after Raghuvanshi's arrest, said:
"On May 9, the CBI lodged an FIR against Vivek Raghuvanshi on allegations that he was involved in the illegal collection of sensitive information, including minute details of the DRDO defense projects and their progress, sensitive details about the future procurement of Indian armed forces revealing the strategic preparedness of the country's classified communications/information relating to national security, and details of the strategic and diplomatic talks of India with our friendly countries".
"The spokesperson further stated, "After collecting them, he was sharing such classified information with the intelligence agencies of foreign countries".
Editorial Associate at Swarajya. Writes on Indian Military and Defence.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!