The Union Home Ministry said on Tuesday that it does not agree with the findings of the World Press Freedom Index, which ranked India at 142nd place out of 180 countries.

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai made the statement in the Lok Sabha in response to a question by Congress MP Manish Tewari.

The index was released by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders in March.

Rai said on Tuesday that the government does not subscribe to Reporters Without Borders’ views and country rankings. He alleged that the index had a “very low sample size, little or no weightage to fundamentals of democracy, adoption of a methodology which is questionable and non-transparent, lack of clear definition of press freedom, etc”.

In July, Reporters Without Borders had also named Prime Minister Narendra Modi in its list of 37 heads of states who massively cracked down on press freedom. The watchdog labelled them as “press freedom predators”.

In a separate report in December, Reporters Without Borders had listed India among thefive most dangerous nations in terms of journalists killed across the world in 2021.

Kashmir Press Club

Meanwhile, Rai on Tuesday also answered a question by Tewari on the reasons for the “hostile takeover” of the Kashmir Press Club on January 15.

The minister said that currently, there is no registered body by the name “Kashmir Press Club” and that the organisation ceased to exist after it failed to register itself under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

“The Estates Department has taken over the government building on 17.1.2022 in the presence of Executive Magistrate, Srinagar,” Rai told the Lok Sabha. “The government building has deployment of static guard for its protection.”

On January 20, ten journalists’ associations based in Kashmir had issued a joint statement seeking the restoration of the club. They condemned the “attempted forcible take-over by a tiny group of journalists and subsequent shutting down of the Kashmir Press Club by the J&K administration”.

Rai also informed the Lok Sabha that in 2020, 796 cases were registered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. He said that 1,321 people were arrested, 116 were acquitted and 80 were convicted under the Act in that year.