Editors Guild of India Condemns Police Action Against Journalists

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

Today, there is no organization in the world that is working effectively to protect journalists from state excesses and police brutality.

By Rakesh Raman

The Editors Guild of India (EGI) has condemned the filing of first information reports (FIRs) – police cases – against an online news service The Wire, and journalists Saba Naqvi, Rana Ayub, Mohammad Zubair and others for reporting or tweeting the painful story of an elderly Muslim man who was attacked in Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh or UP).

In its statement released today (June 17), the EGI said that the Editors Guild of India condemns the filing of FIRs by the UP police against The Wire and several journalists, for their tweets on an assault on an elderly Muslim man in Ghaziabad on June 5th.

The statement added that the Guild is deeply concerned by the UP Police’s track record of filing FIRs against journalists to deter them from reporting serious incidents without fear of reprisals. 

The police took the draconian action against journalists when the Prime Minister (PM) of India Narendra Modi claimed during the G7 Summit (11–13 June 2021) that democracy and freedom were a part of India’s civilization ethos. The UP police action shows that Modi’s statements in front of the world leaders have no meaning for the local police.

The journalists’ association EGI condemned the wanton misuse of laws to criminalize reporting and dissent to harass independent media and demanded that the FIRs be withdrawn immediately. But EGI is a toothless outfit, which keeps issuing shallow statements which are ignored by the authorities and people who are supposed to follow them.

Today, in fact, there is no organization in the world that is working effectively to protect journalists from state excesses and police brutality. Although UNESCO and other UN agencies keep releasing loose statements and random reports about media freedom, they too have failed miserably to protect journalists in different countries.

Similarly, the NGOs such as Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and various journalists’ associations – that claim to be working for press freedom and protection of journalists – mostly exist to collect huge donations and funds for their shady operations.

While these so-called protectors of press freedom are not doing any tangible work to protect journalists, they operate only as secondary news outlets. They lift news from here and there about attacks on journalists and simply publish it under their own banners on their websites or issue casual condemnation statements. They cannot influence and change the brutal decisions of the authorities that are unleashing terror on journalists.

In India, the Indian courts and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India have also failed to protect journalists from frequent attacks.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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