India: Attempted break in at journalist Neha Dixit's home

Neha Dixit, a freelance journalist known for her investigative reporting, revealed on January 27 that she and her partner, filmmaker Nakul Singh Sawhney, had received ongoing threats, harassment and stalking since September 2020, including a recent break-in attempt at their home. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Indian affiliate the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) strongly condemn the physical and online attacks and call for an urgent investigation.

Freelance journalist Neha Dixit. Credit: Facebook

In a social media statement, Dixit revealed that at around 9pm on January 25, an unidentified person attempted to break into her house in Delhi, fleeing when she shouted and opened the door. The incident follows a series of harassment and intimidation attempts, including threats of rape, acid attack and murder, by an unidentified group since September 2020. According to the statement, Dixit said the threats were entirely related to her role as a journalist. Several mobile numbers and different voices were used to threaten her. She further stated that the stalkers also target her partner.

 

Dixit received the first telephone threat in September 2020 while at a market. The unknown voice threatened, “Sabzi lay rahi hai na tu. Bada reporter banti hai. Jaan jayegi teri” (translating to “You are buying vegetables, right? You think you are a big shot reporter? You will die.”). The calls have increased in frequency, coming from different unidentified numbers. Dixit has filed a complaint with local police.

Dixit, whose stories have been published in The New York Times, Al-Jazeera, Caravan and The Wire, is known for her ground-breaking investigative stories concerning female trafficking in Assam and gender-based violence against minority women during the Muzaffarnagar riots.

A global survey by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2020 highlights the widespread online abuse, harassment, threats, and attacks suffered by female journalists. In accordance with these findings, there have been many instances of attempted character assassination, doxing (disclosure of personal identifying information) and even threats of physical and sexual violence against female journalists in India.

The IJU Secretary General, Sabina Inderjit, said: “The intimidation and harassment of Neha is a threat to freedom of media as her reportage and investigative articles have greatly embarrassed the ruling party, which is hell bent on silencing the fourth estate. The IJU urges the police to nab the culprits and arrest the stalker and ensure Neha’s security.” 

The IFJ said: “The complaints of Dixit and other journalists need to be taken seriously by authorities in terms of the serious and gender-based nature of the threats and to ensure a thorough investigation is conducted to apprehend the perpetrators and guarantee their safety.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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