'Travesty of All Democratic Norms': Editors Guild Condemns Targeted Harassment of Women Journalists

The statement highlights evidence brought out by The Wire's investigations into the Tek Fog app as well as the recent apps created on GitHub to 'auction' Muslim women.

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New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India has issued a statement condemning the continuing online abuse of women journalists. The statement highlights evidence brought out by The Wire’s investigations into the Tek Fog app – a secret app used by people associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party to target people including women journalists – as well as the recent apps created on GitHub to ‘auction’ Muslim women.

“What is further disturbing is that most of these attacks are targeted at journalists who have been outspokenly critical of the current government and the ruling party, in an effort to silence them under the intimidation of such attacks. This is a travesty of all democratic norms, and in violation of law,” the Editors Guild has said.

“The latest instances of such organised trolling and harassment are revealed by the investigations done by The Wire, which laid bare an extensive and well funded network built around an app, Tek Fog, which steals unused WhatsApp accounts to send out toxic messages to targeted journalists. The purpose of these deeply hurtful messages was to instill fear in them and to prevent them from expressing themselves freely and go about their jobs. According to the reports, several women journalists were subjected to thousands of abusive tweets,” the statement continues.

“There were also the recent instances of online auction of Muslim women by at least two open source apps on the GitHub platform, which included journalists critical of the government. Though law enforcement agencies have arrested those supposedly behind such apps, there is need for further investigation in order to ensure that all those behind such despicable acts, even beyond those arrested, are brought to justice.”

The government must take urgent steps, the Editors Guild has said, to ensure that those behind these apps and organising the targeted harassment of female journalists be brought to justice. “Further, given the allegations that there may be the involvement of influential people linked to the ruling party with the app Tek Fog, the Guild demands that the Supreme Court of India takes cognisance of the matter and order a probe into it.”