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Attack on journalists,  Attack on democracy

The state government had promised to bring a legislation to protect journalists in 2005 but it still remains on paper.

JournalistMumbaikars have condemned the assault on journalists in Uttar Pradesh and want strict laws to be passed to prevent such incidents. Earlier many journalists have been attacked in Maharashtra too raising questions about their security. Journalism is considered as a dangerous profession as there are several risks associated with it when a scribe covers a story. Four years back senior journalist J Dey was shot and killed in broad day light at Hiranandani Gardens, Powai. The state government had promised to bring a legislation to protect journalists in 2005 but it still remains on paper. Journalists are increasingly facing violent attacks by those representing powerful vested interests, local goons and underworld dons. The freedom of press and security of journalists in the state also comes under the scanner following such incidents.

Local goons pressurise journalists to withhold a story and suppress several facts. As a result of these hindrances journalists are unable to perform their job effectively. Earlier a delegation of journalists had met former Governor K Sankaranarayanan, requesting him to prevail upon the state government to amend law to make attacks on media persons a non-bailable and cognisable offence. Journalists associations have staged demonstrations to raise the issue of attack on scribes.

There has been a surge in attacks on journalists in Uttar Pradesh. As per the National Crime Bureau statistics, UP accounted for 72 per cent of the total crimes committed against journalists in the country in 2014 and not a single person was arrested in relation with these cases.

Thus journalists are working under threat while discharging their duties in Uttar Pradesh. The UP government had started a toll free number for resolving the grievances within 15 days but it has failed to yield any result. Justice is denied to those journalists who are assaulted as no action is taken against the accused. As a result of this, the attacks continue to rise unabated. India was the fourth most dangerous country for journalists in 2013-14.

Press Council of India Chairman C K Prasad said, “The murder of a journalist at Shahjehanpur in UP is certainly an attack on the freedom of the press and as such it should be treated seriously. The state government should appoint a Special Investigative Team consisting of officers of impeccable character and track record to get to the truth of the matter as it allegedly involves a minister of the state Cabinet.”

“Of late there has been a rise in attacks against journalists. Media is known as the fourth pillar of democracy. The government must frame strict laws to curb attacks on journalists” said Ritesh Shah a Kandivali resident.

“Why has the UP government failed to take action against accused responsible for journalist attacks? Even ministers are giving irresponsible statements which is condemnable” said Sameer Wadekar a Borivali resident.

Malhar Deshpande@DMalhar

“Why is the regular outrage industry silent on recent killing and attack on journalists in UP? Their press freedom, idea of India exclude UP?”

Himanshi Matta@Himanshimatta

@AIIndia:Horrific attack on #JagendraSingh highlights the dangers that journalists can face in doing their jobs in #UP @yadavakhilesh.”

Three journalists have been assaulted in Uttar Pradesh within a span of two weeks this month.

On June 1, a journalist Jagendra Singh was burnt in Shahjahanpur followed by attack on journalist Deepak Mishra in Kanpur on June 11. Later, journalist Haider Khan was attacked and tied to a motor cycle and dragged for 100 metres on June 13.

Pilibhit SP JK Shahi said that a case has been registered against four people in connection with the assault on Haidar Khan, who works as a freelance journalist with a news channel.

On the other hand, UP horticulture minister Parasnath Yadav made insensitive remarks against the killing of journalist Jagendra Singh. He said, “There are some incidents that happen in the course of nature and destiny…you can’t fight nature.”

BJP workers staged protest against the SP government for its failure to arrest minister of state for backward welfare Ram Murti Singh Verma for his alleged involvement in journalist Jagendra Singh murder case.

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