“Is this your “journalism of courage”?”: Swara Bhasker on ‘sickening’ Islamophobia of Indian Express; newspaper had honoured Sudhir Chaudhary for excellence in journalism


Bollywood actor Swara Bhasker has lashed out at Indian Express for promoting Islamophobia by carrying out the BJP’s divisive agenda in a front-page advertisement. The Indian newspaper, popular amongst Indian liberals and Muslims, also faced widespread condemnation from activists, who called it a ‘vehicle of fascism.’ Not many would know that Sudhir Chaudhary of Zee News was once honoured by this newspaper for excellence in journalism.

This was after Indian Express carried a front-page advertisement by the Uttar Pradesh government, which showed a Muslim man as a violent rioter before Yogi Adityanath became the state’s chief minister but was now asking for forgiveness after the BJP assumed power.

The caption of the ad read, “Before 2017, fear of rioters. Seeking forgiveness after 2017.”

Calling the ad ‘sickening’, Swara wrote, “SICKENING @IndianExpress, Is this your “journalism of courage” ?! #StopAdvertisingHate.”

Tagging the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Raj Kamal Jha, activist Kavita Krishnan tweeted, “Dear @rajkamaljha – take a close look at this
@IndianExpress front page with a huge Islamophobic ad by the UP Govt enjoying pride of place. You can’t pretend that this is a mere commercial decision – this ad editorialises, & makes the paper a vehicle for fascism. Chilling to see.”

Similar reactions from other users, many of whom vowing to never buy this newspaper in future. One wrote, “Thank you @IndianExpress, I can’t associate myself anymore as a reader with a newspaper that has been constantly propelling capitalist policies through its editorials and now with such govt backed front-page propaganda against Indians from a different religion. Grow a spine, IE!”

Another wrote, “@rajkamaljha laanat hai. No amount of neutral both sidism undoes this the @IndianExpress peddles consistently… while sitting on a moral high horse about its journalism.” “I did not fully comprehend yesterday that the ad on the front page of the @IndianExpress, which demonised Muslims, was issued by the Uttar Pradesh government as an electoral ploy for UP elections. I cannot even believe that such an ad is legal. @anantgoenka? @rajkamaljha? Really?” asked another user.

As expected, the newspaper’s chief editor, Raj Kamal Jha, has chosen to ignore the criticism from activists.

In 2015, the newspaper had honoured a known Islamophobe, Sudhir Chaudhary of Zee News, with Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award.