Islamabad, Feb 16: The "new, ugly face of Modi's India" can be seen in the Jawaharlal Nehru University protest row, said a Pakistani daily which urged JNU students, India's civil society and opposition parties to "fight back".
An editorial "JNU protests" in The News International on Tuesday said: "The new, ugly face of Modi's India can be seen in the reaction to the row over protests at the Jawaharwal Nehru University."
The fracas started when students at the university held a protest to mark the third anniversary of the execution of Afzal Guru, convicted of an attack on the Indian Parliament House.
"...the protestors were immediately tarred as being pro-Pakistani, supporters of terrorists and anti-India."
The daily said that in a "stunning suppression of dissent, police have even arrested the head of the JNU student's union for participating in the protest".
"Leaders of Congress, including Rahul Gandhi, are being similarly smeared. Perhaps the worst reaction came from (Indian) Home Minister Rajnath Singh who accused Pakistan's Hafiz Saeed of being behind the protest. It now appears he came to this ludicrous conclusion based on a tweet by a fake Hafiz Saeed account."
"Instead of taking back his remarks, Singh is now doubling down and asking his critics to prove a negative by claiming they can't show Hafiz Saeed wasn't behind the protest. This is the reality when an ultra-nationalist like Modi comes to power. It is up to dissenters to prove their loyalty and show they are not agents of foreign forces," it added.
The editorial went on to say that by falling over a fake tweet, the Indian government has only damaged its own credibility.
"...this is about more than just Pakistan. The BJP government has shown it has no respect for India's secularist traditions. The official narrative is that anyone who doubts the course of justice was properly followed in the Afzal case can now be jailed for voicing that opinion. This narrative...makes a mockery of the concept of academic freedom.
"We have already been through beef bans and pots of ink being thrown by Modi's opinions. Now they are coming for the academia. The students at JNU, and India's civil society and opposition parties will have to fight back."