By Rana Ayyub
The “first information report” against me filed by the Hindu IT Cell was preceded by numerous interrogations from government agencies and the freezing of my bank accounts. The complaint alleges, without providing any evidence, that I didn’t use the money collected through an online platform. But I had given a check for $130,000 to a New Delhi hospital that was building a children’s ward ahead of a third wave of the coronavirus. The hospital management — under political pressure — returned the check, citing concerns over my criticism of the government. All the money, including the amount returned from the hospital, has now been redirected to other causes and is in the process of transfer. A big portion was paid in taxes, leaving less for the needy. Not a rupee has been misused.
But that’s not really the point, is it?
The accusations over the donated funds are the latest chapter in a months-long campaign to silence and discredit me. Ever since I began to report and speak up about India’s terrible mismanagement of the pandemic, I’ve been asked questions about my “international connections” and the supposed large sums of money I receive for writing for international publications. I’m routinely accused of trying to discredit Modi’s image on the global stage.
But over the past month I’ve barely written or reported, because all my energy has gone to battling the latest accusations and clearing my name. I guess that was always the goal, and putting me in this position is the punishment.