Bhubaneswar: While the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an organization which defends the right of journalists and promotes press freedom worldwide, has reported 14 journalists have been killed in India in the last five years, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) there have been 142 attacks on media persons in India since 2015 and 70 journalists killed between 1992 and 2016.
According to CPJ’s 2018 Global Impunity Index, India ranks 14 among countries with the worst records of prosecuting the killers of journalists. India is one of seven countries that have been on the list every year since it was first released in 2008.
To top it all, India has not yet responded to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s impunity accountability mechanism, which seeks information on the status of investigations into journalists’ murders.
International law and human rights barrister Amal Clooney, during a press conference at G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in France on April 5, highlighted India as one of the five countries where journalists were most at risk of “political assassination for their work,” alongside Brazil.
Clooney has been appointed British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s Special Envoy on Media Freedom as the UK prepares to host an international conference on media freedom this July in the wake of attacks on journalists across the world.
The most recent assault of a journalist in India was reported from Uttar Pradesh, where officials of Government Railway Police (GRP) thrashed a journalist while he was covering a train derailment near Dhimanpura in the early hours of Wednesday.
A video of the incident has also gone viral on social media. The journalist identified as Amit Sharma of News 24 has also alleged of being stripped and urinated upon by the GRP personnel after locking him up.
While Station House Officer Rakesh Kumar and GRP constable Sunil Kumar have been suspended and a probe has been ordered into the incident, after several scribes took up the issue with senior officials, there are many such cases where justice is yet to be delivered.
In his reaction, senior journalist from Odisha, Rabi Das, said there is a need of condemning attack on journalists during news coverage. Many a times they are attacked while collecting news or in reaction to the news, but none has the right to do so and he or she should be prosecuted.
The Supreme Court has also mentioned that the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution are “non-negotiable”, Das added while citing the recent release of journalist Prashant Kanojia, who had been jailed for tweeting about Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
Das asserted that the less known journalists are the most vulnerable to the attacks by police and government officials and this conveys a warning message to the media fraternity. The corrupt and powerful, who fear of being exposed by the journalists, attempt to silence them by money or muscle.