Swatantra Bharat Party

National Press Release – to be released across India
15 November 2018 – for immediate release [Word version]

Mr Sanjeev Sabhlok, senior leader of Swarna Bharat Party, India’s only liberal party, today said that dark clouds have descended over India. There is no longer any doubt that Mr Modi has personally pressurised the Times of India to shut down Mr Sabhlok’s blog on that newspaper’s website. Mr Modi has declared a Silent Emergency with full-blown censorship.

In this particular case, two extremely senior Times of India editors had fully supported Mr Sabhlok’s blog, which commenced on 29 October 2018. But immediately after the first post was published – which was very critical of the Yogi government, the newspaper went totally silent. 

The matter is unequivocally straightforward. One of the most senior editors of Times of India strongly recommended Mr Sabhlok’s blog. He wrote: “Sanjeev Sabhlok writes regularly for the edit page. He’s a smart guy, an IAS officer with many interesting ideas, he’s also trying to start a political party that espouses classical liberal principles for India (perhaps like the earlier Swatantra party that didn’t prove durable). I would strongly recommend him as a blogger for stuff when we can’t carry him in print due to space limitations. Could you take a look at his stuff and see if this possible?”

Thereafter Mr Nalin Mehta, the of Times of India online blogs, wrote: “[W]e can certainly start a blog. Am adding Kunal, and Arman, who will take this forward. Arman: pls contact Sanjeev and start the regular blog”. Thereafter Armaan Bhatnagar wrote to Sanjeev: “We’ll be happy to have you on board”. The first post Mr Sabhlok wrote was entitled, “Are those of us at the bottom no more than insects?” It dealt with the killing by UP Police of an autorickshaw driver Ramji Mishra who had gone to the Gopiganj police station for advice. This post was published virtually instantaneously. 

Mr Sabhlok then sent two further posts: one on desperately needed police reforms and another for publication on the Diwali day to explain how India’s culture is intrinsically anti-socialist. But the Times of India went totally silent. After five emails that received no response it became clear that the world’s largest English newspaper had been directly muzzled by Modi. No one apart from him has the power in India to stifle the world’s largest English newspaper. The full details of this incident (including disclosure of full emails from the Times of India editors) is available at: https://bit.ly/2POYov6.

Mr Modi has many personal reasons to dislike Mr Sabhlok who, since 2013, has been relentlessly exposing Mr Modi’s escapades. Any google search on Modi’s escapades quickly leads to Mr Sabhlok’s extremely popular blog. Mr Modi personally knows that if Mr Sabhlok gets an even more powerful platform then Mr Modi’s days – and the days of BJP – are numbered. And so, while Mr Modi tolerated the occasional indiscretion of the Times of India in publishing Mr Sabhlok centrepiece articles (six so far), the fact that Mr Sabhlok would now get to reach out more regularly through his Times of India online blog scared Mr Modi out his wits. 

The Old Lady of Bori Bunder has been muzzled. Its senior most editors have no independence. It has been effectively made into a government department. 

Swarna Bharat Party demands a detailed explanation from the Times of India for this episode which amounts to a direct attack on democracy, apart from being a breach of trust. SBP also asks the entire world to wake up to Mr Modi’s attempts to stifle dissent. The free world must boycott Mr Modi.

Notes for Editors
SBP is India’s only liberal party, committed to defending liberty and promoting prosperity.

Sanjeev Sabhlok (Melbourne), sabhilok@gmail.com
Rahul Pandit (Hyderabad) National Working President, +91 9703425422

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