India News

UN Calls for End to Attacks Against Journalist Rana Ayyub; India Says Allegations of Judicial Harassment are “Baseless and Unwarranted”

The United Nations, on Monday, called for an end to the judicial harassment of journalist Rana Ayyub and an investigation into the “relentless misogynistic and sectarian” online attacks on her.


The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued the statement based on the report of two experts: Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

Ayyub, an independent investigative journalist and woman human rights defender, “continues to be the victim of intensifying attacks and threats online by far-right Hindu nationalist groups,” the experts at the UN said.

They further added that these attacks are a result of Ayuub’s reportage on issues affecting minority Muslims in India, her criticism of the Union Government for its handling of the pandemic, and her comments on the recent ban on hijabs in schools and colleges in Karnataka. “In response to Ms Ayyub’s efforts to shine a light on public interest issues and hold power to account through her reporting, she has been maliciously targeted with anonymous death and rape threats by organised groups online,” said the statement.

Earlier this month, Ayyub had taken to Twitter to extend her gratitude to the Mumbai Cyber Crime Cell for making the first arrest over the rape and death threats issued to her through various social media platforms.


The report from the UN experts also added that Ayyub has been subjected to legal harassment from the Indian authorities for a number of years.

It further said that the lack of condemnation and proper investigation by the Government of India, “coupled with the legal harassment it has itself inflicted on Ms Ayyub, has only served to falsely legitimise the attacks and attackers and further endangered her safety.”

“It is imperative that the authorities take urgent measures to protect her from the onslaught of threats and hate online and end the investigation against her,” the statement concluded.

Responding to this, the Permanent Mission of India in Geneva (the official delegation representing India at the UN) called the allegations of harassment “baseless and unwarranted” and accused the UN of “advancing a misleading narrative.”

Allegations of so-called judicial harassment are baseless and unwarranted. India upholds the rule of law, but is equally clear that no one is above the law. We expect SRs (Special Rapporteur) to be objective and accurately informed. Advancing a misleading narrative only tarnishes the UN’s reputation,” wrote India at UN, Geneva. 

It is notable that on February 10, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) froze Rs 1.77 crore belonging to Ayyub. The journalist’s assets were frozen by ED based on an FIR registered by the Uttar Pradesh police against her, in September 2021. The complaint was raised by one Vikas Sankrityayan, founder of an NGO called “Hindu IT Cell” and a resident of Indirapuram in Ghaziabad, who alleged that Ayyub had diverted large funds collected through Ketto, an online crowding platform, for relief work.

The police invoked sections of IPC, IT Act and also Section 4 of Black Money Act, alleging that she illegally acquired money from the public, in the name of charity.


The UN observed that this was the second time in six months that her bank accounts and other assets were frozen in response to “seemingly baseless allegations of money laundering and tax fraud, related to her crowd-funding campaigns to provide assistance to those affected by the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, The Washington Posta leading international publication, ran a full-page statement expressing solidarity with Ayyub. “She has been the target of prejudiced investigations and online harassment,” wrote the newspaper, adding the hashtag #WeStandWithRana.