Lauren Frayer | WGLT

Lauren Frayer

Lauren Frayer covers India for NPR News. In June 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.

Before moving to India, Lauren was a regular freelance contributor to NPR for seven years, based in Madrid. During that time, she substituted for NPR bureau chiefs in Seoul, London, Istanbul, Islamabad, and Jerusalem. She also served as a guest host of Weekend Edition Sunday.

In Europe, Lauren chronicled the economic crisis in Spain & Portugal, where youth unemployment spiked above 50%. She profiled a Portuguese opera singer-turned protest leader, and a 90-year-old survivor of the Spanish Civil War, exhuming her father's remains from a 1930s-era mass grave. From Paris, Lauren reported live on NPR's Morning Edition, as French police moved in on the Charlie Hebdo terror suspects. In the fall of 2015, Lauren spent nearly two months covering the flow of migrants & refugees across Hungary & the Balkans – and profiled a Syrian rapper among them. She interviewed a Holocaust survivor who owed his life to one kind stranger, and managed to get a rare interview with the Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders – by sticking her microphone between his bodyguards in the Hague.

Farther afield, she introduced NPR listeners to a Pakistani TV evangelist, a Palestinian surfer girl in Gaza, and K-pop performers campaigning in South Korea's presidential election.

Lauren has also contributed to The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the BBC.

Her international career began in the Middle East, where she was an editor on the Associated Press' Middle East regional desk in Cairo, and covered the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in Syria and southern Lebanon. In 2007, she spent a year embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, an assignment for which the AP nominated her and her colleagues for a Pulitzer Prize.

On a break from journalism, Lauren drove a Land Rover across Africa for a year, from Cairo to Cape Town, sleeping in a tent on the car's roof. She once made the front page of a Pakistani newspaper, simply for being a woman commuting to work in Islamabad on a bicycle.

Born and raised in a suburb of New York City, Lauren holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from The College of William & Mary in Virginia. She speaks Spanish, Portuguese, rusty French and Arabic, and is now learning Hindi.

Updated at 2:50 pm ET

Riots and mob violence have rocked neighborhoods for three nights in New Delhi — the Indian capital's worst sectarian tumult in decades. At least 20 people have been killed in the fighting, which follows months of mostly peaceful protests over a new citizenship law that excludes Muslim refugees.

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When President Trump arrives on his first official visit to India on Monday, his first stop will be Ahmedabad, the largest city in the western state of Gujarat. It's the place where Indian freedom leader Mahatma Gandhi built his ashram, a place for prayer and communal living, on a riverbank lined with Indian lilac trees.

When Aysha Renna decided last month to demonstrate against India's new citizenship law on her college campus in New Delhi, it never occurred to her that doing so might be dangerous.

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A court in India has issued a death warrant for four men convicted in the fatal 2012 gang rape of a college student on a New Delhi bus, a crime that sparked huge demonstrations and a nationwide reckoning over sexual violence in India.

The men are scheduled to be executed by hanging at 7 a.m. on Jan. 22, the court in New Delhi announced Tuesday. India's president can still stay their execution, but he is not expected to intervene.

A fresh wave of protests spread across India's biggest cities Monday, hours after masked assailants invaded dormitories on an elite university campus in the capital New Delhi and beat up students and faculty.

Tens of thousands of protesters marched on college campuses across India on Monday, saying a new citizenship law is unconstitutional because it treats Muslims differently from Hindus, Buddhists and other religious groups.

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At Sri Lanka's southern tip, an abandoned British lighthouse stands sentinel near a half-moon-shaped cove bobbing with turquoise dinghies. Fishermen wearing sarongs drag wooden outriggers across a beach backed by centuries-old salt flats and palm trees.

Less than 2 miles down the coast, towering blue-and-white cranes dwarf the lighthouse, as does a contemporary glass and stucco office building — the Chinese headquarters of a sprawling new port complex.

On Dec. 26 last year, in a town surrounded by tea and rubber plantations in central Sri Lanka, residents discovered Buddhist statues had been vandalized on the side of the road. In the middle of the night, some saw young men speeding away on motorbikes after they'd shattered glass cases protecting the statues and hacked off the stone and marble Buddhas' noses and hands.

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Before dawn Friday, police transported four suspects to the scene of a crime that has outraged their nation: A roadside in southern India, where the men are accused of gang-raping a woman, suffocating her and setting her body on fire.

The woman's Nov. 27 murder sparked protests and candlelight vigils across India. Within 48 hours, police had arrested the four, their brutality allegedly caught on CCTV cameras.

Police said they needed to question the suspects at the crime scene — before daybreak — to have them retrace their steps and collect more evidence.

On a roadside in northern Sri Lanka, a dozen women in bright-colored saris squat in the shade of an open canvas tent, waving tattered photographs at passing cars. They're school portraits, now yellowing, of their children who disappeared more than a decade ago in the country's civil war.

The women weep and nod as each tells her own son's or daughter's story. Kasipillai Romee was 16. She wanted to be a doctor. Sheeva Kumar was 20. He went to work and never came home. Rajendran Uday was 22 when soldiers came at midnight and took him away.

Thousands of Buddhists from all over the world made a pilgrimage this fall to a monastery high in India's Himalayas. Orange-robed monks with shaved heads huddled cross-legged on the floor, as Tibetan opera singers in multicolored gowns teetered under the weight of giant silver headdresses. They carried fruit baskets as offerings and chanted in unison, all praying for the same thing: the Dalai Lama's longevity.

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India has banned e-cigarettes. The move is preventative. Vaping isn't widespread in India, but other forms of tobacco are. India has the second-largest number of smokers in the world after China. NPR's Lauren Frayer reports from Mumbai.

When Martin Luther King Jr. visited the villa in Mumbai, India, where Mohandas Gandhi stayed in the 1920s, he had a special request: He wanted to spend the night in Gandhi's bedroom.

Wednesday marks 150 years since the birth of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Better known as the Mahatma, or great soul, Gandhi was an Indian lawyer who led his country to freedom from British colonial rule in 1947. He was assassinated months later at age 78.

Gandhi is most famous for his philosophy of nonviolence that has inspired civil rights leaders around the world. But his legacy is facing fresh scrutiny against modern ideas about race, feminism and nationalism.

They found it!

More than 36 hours after India lost contact with an unmanned spacecraft it was trying to land near the moon's South Pole, scientists appear to have located it on the moon's surface. But there's no word on what condition it's in.

On the eve of India's surprise Aug. 5 takeover of Kashmir, Sanna Shah was sitting cross-legged on a silk carpet, trying to enjoy the folk singers performing at her cousin's wedding in the state's summer capital, Srinagar.

Nobody could concentrate on the music. Tens of thousands of Indian troops were pouring into Kashmir, already a heavily militarized area. Wedding guests were increasingly worried, trying to figure out what was going on.

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Last year, a long-distance truck driver, Mohammad Hashim, was hauling a load of refrigerators out of New Delhi when a dozen strangers on motorbikes forced him off the road.

They pulled him out of his truck and demanded he open the back. They wanted to see if Hashim was transporting cows or beef — which is illegal in many Indian states, because cows are sacred in Hinduism, the majority religion in India.

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As tensions continued high between India and Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Thursday that his government's decision to revoke Kashmir's special status marked "a new era" that would free the region of "terrorism and separatism."

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India's government on Monday took the extraordinary step of revoking Kashmir's constitutionally guaranteed special status, a move that would tighten its control over the country's only Muslim-majority state.

In a decree issued by President Ram Nath Kovind, Article 370 of India's Constitution was rescinded amid protests and criticism of the move, which would turn the state into a union territory.

When Tinak Bhansali arrived for freshman orientation last month at the SRM Institute of Science and Technology, one of India's elite engineering schools, he was nervous and excited. It was his first time away from his hometown, New Delhi. This was his dream school — a bucolic 250-acre campus in southern India, with palm trees, sprawling stucco buildings and cricket fields.

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