Twenty eight journalists were murdered in India with different motives, as attacks on journalists increase, so does immunity owing to the politician-police nexus letting the culprits off. Exposing wrongdoing is now a very dangerous task. Fifty four attacks and 25 cases of threatening journalists took place in the past 16 months. Though seven journalists were killed this year, reasonable evidence of their journalism being the motive for the murder is available only in one case. The numbers mentioned here is actually the reported one from prominent places; there are many journalists from small towns who get attacked for exposing religious goons. Meanwhile the data reveals a disturbing pattern of impunity. In the 114 incidents of attacks on journalists in 2014, only 32 people were arrested and in relation to the 28 incidents in 2015, 41 people were arrested.
Journalists face countless pressures, such as the daily grind to get stories in by deadline, perfecting the craft, or dealing with sometimes rude, aggressive, even threatening people around. They often cover disturbing events and sometimes feel overworked and overstressed. Journalists are increasingly under fire for their reporting. They are killed, attacked and threatened. Barely three days into 2017 came news of the killing of yet another journalist from Bihar. Probably, the details that followed adhered to the same pattern: a gang of unidentified shooters; motive not known; police suspect a family dispute or a rivalry, anything but a killing caused by the professional work of the defunct. All journalists are constantly negotiating stress from many counter parts. We all expect fair journalism but we don’t like the truth spoken about us. This is what the scenario is nowadays. Government is scared of those reporters who criticize establishments and expose ministers. They shelter and protect journalists who are good at boot licking by siding government’s bad deeds. But the rationals are the ones who end up sacrificing their lives.
Every year some journalists are silenced but some section of social media tags them to some or the other motive to save the government that they support and very purpose of investigation gets twisted. Take the example of Gauri Lankesh, some section of political supporters called her “Kutiya” a bitch, some celebrated her death and others demanded same kind of treatment to many other journalists who speak their mind. I agree sometimes the opinion of journalists may differ, they might be harsh in criticizing but they are not taking you on gunpoint. There are many journalists who are hooted, abused, mocked and humiliated by our PM’s supporters. They are the followers of right wing organizations, for them the selective subjects and whatever PM doing is like bible, one who speak or disagrees is declared as anti-national.
In 2016, the deaths of six journalists hit the headlines but initial police investigations could indicate professional reasons in only three cases. There were 17 instances in 2016 of threats to journalists – serious cases of death threats, rape threats and intimidation. Neither our government nor the establishment no one ever bothered to attend these issues. Fourth estate of democracy has gone dilapidated and damaged, but still we expect journalism to reach all heights only by flattering some section of people and the rulers.
Whenever a journalist is attacked or killed, the politicians, vigilante groups, police and security forces, lawyers, think tanks, prime time panel to, frazzled Bollywood actors come forward attacking the integrity of journalist, they forget these journalists are not aliens, they too are people belonging to this society, nation and sometimes your own family. Why so much ruthlessness? Why kill someone just because of disagreement?
Political goons, different organizations, rioters, mafias and criminal gangs operate in illegal trades under the protection of local politicians and with the knowledge of local law enforcing agencies. If these entities get exposed or questioned by journalists, they simply attack them. None of the attack is ever investigated or punished. We need to call out the collusion of the political party leaders and politicians’ supporters who assault journalists, the role of vigilante groups and of heartened student groups who target journalists and methodically chase them and seek to schnozzle them. In the race to feed the beast, some of them are willing to ignore or bypass other beasts. They also know that filing complaints and pursing legal mechanisms to bring culprits to book are time-consuming and dangerous, bringing them more into the spotlight and vulnerable to further targeting. They know the threats and the attacks are a warning that their lives have been spared, this time.
In 2015, nine Indian reporters were among 110 journalists killed around the world a media watchdog group said dubbing India as “Asia’s deadliest country” for media personnel. 2016, India has turned out to be the “third most dangerous country in the world” in terms of violence against journalists. Since 1992, 64 journalists have been killed in India with reporters exposing corruption the most hunted. The high death rate of journalists in the country is only lower than war-torn Iraq and Syria. India is the deadliest nation for reporters in Asia, more than Pakistan or Afghanistan. It’s a matter of grave concern that the journalists are attacked and killed in our country.
It’s high time these incidents should be stopped by punishing the culprits. Protest needs to be undertaken until government takes some strong steps. This issue has to be raised unless scribes get protection. More importantly, they should be given a Right to Write, Right to Express and Right to unveil Truth.
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