One of the primary aims of journalism is to ask questions and search below the surface for answers. Although many within the ruling party may endorse this sentiment, it’s apparent that some of them feel otherwise. Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju made his feelings known on the subject on Tuesday. “First of all we should stop this habit of raising doubt, questioning the authorities and the police,” Rijiju told journalists on Tuesday.
“This is not a good culture. But what we have been observing in India that the people have developed this habit of raising unnecessary doubts and questions.” These comments were directed at the many issues that arose surrounding an alleged encounter in Madhya Pradesh earlier this week when police said they had shot and killed eight prisoners associated with the banned Students Islamic Movement of India in self-defence. As the above editorial suggests, there are a lot of questions regarding the veracity of the state government’s claims, leading some to ask whether if this was a case of extrajudicial murder.
Of course, the habit Rijiju is referring to is central to democracy itself. To state the obvious, democracy is a political system where a free press must carry out the responsibility of raising tough questions to the authorities. Probably, the honourable minister expects unquestioning acceptance of the official version of events. More troubling, however, is the minister’s apparent endorsement for an all-powerful state where the government’s version is taken to be the gospel truth.