Killing of Journalists and Attacks on Press Freedom Increasing in India

Stop killing journalists. Photo: UNESCO
Stop killing journalists. Photo: UNESCO

A delegation of journalists from Tripura (a state in northeast India) representing the “Forum for Protection of Journalists” called on an Indian Minister Jitendra Singh on Monday.

The Journalists called for a high-level inquiry against violence and oppression on the journalists of the State.

The delegation also cited the example of recent daylight killing of journalist Sudip Datta Bhowmik and the killing of another young television journalist Santanu Bhowmik two months earlier.

Although Jitendra Singh received a memorandum from the journalists, according to the official statement, he did not give any assurance to them about their protection.

Press Freedom in India

Notwithstanding Indian government’s claims of ensuring press freedom in the country, India lost 3 notches to fall at No. 136 in the latest 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

[ Modi’s Nationalism Is Threat to Press Freedom in India: Global Report ]

Published every year since 2002 by Reporters Without Borders, the World Press Freedom Index ranks 180 countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists.

As journalists who express dissent are being constantly harassed and even murdered in India, Reporters Without Borders observed that the Hindu nationalists belonging to the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi are “trying to purge all manifestations of ‘anti-national’ thought from the national debate.”

It is largely being observed that the Modi government is suppressing the voice of the media and particularly scuttling all corruption investigations in which BJP politicians are involved.

A delegation of Tripura journalists representing the "Forum for Protection of Journalists" meeting the Indian Minister Jitendra Singh, in New Delhi on December 04, 2017. Photo: Press Information Bureau
A delegation of Tripura journalists representing the “Forum for Protection of Journalists” meeting the Indian Minister Jitendra Singh, in New Delhi on December 04, 2017. Photo: Press Information Bureau

The India Index also observed that self-censorship is growing in the mainstream media. Journalists are increasingly the targets of online smear campaigns by the most radical nationalists, who vilify them and even threaten physical reprisals, the world report stated while releasing the Index.

It adds that prosecutions are also used to gag journalists who are overly critical of the government, with some prosecutors invoking Section 124a of the penal code, under which “sedition” is punishable by life imprisonment. However, according to the report, no journalist has so far been convicted of sedition.

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Rakesh Raman