Physical Safety and Integrity of Journalists – Challenges and Solutions

  • Perpetrators of such attacks include government agencies, security forces, political party members, religious sections, student groups, criminal gangs and local mafias.
  • Polarization within the media houses is also increasing, with clear biases and stances taken by media houses which are either owned by or have close connection with the political parties.
  • During the period between 2014 to 2019 more than 200 attacks upon journalists were reported from different parts of the country.

Now a days, attacks on journalists for their investigative reports is one of the prime common issues. History reveals that the journalists working on the front lines of information gathering have been either attacked (some to within an inch of their lives) or killed. Further, they have been rendered defenseless by a systemic failure to deliver justice.

Of the more than 30 journalists who have been killed since 2010, there have been only three convictions.

Perpetrators of such attacks include government agencies, security forces, political party members, religious sections, student groups, criminal gangs and local mafias, who got away with their attacks due to the aid provided by poor and indifferent police investigations.

Often, law enforcers disbelieve the claims of the journalists, the families and the colleagues of victim journalists, on the account that the reason for the attack was due to some personal dispute or a corrupt practice on the part of the journalist.

Polarization within the media houses is also increasing, with clear biases and stances taken by media houses which are either owned by or have close connection with the political parties. This has also played a role in the attacks on journalists in India. Also, tussles between newsmakers to take control of news coverage and oppose the coverage of television channels which is perceived to have a bias, is also not new.

During the period between 2014 to 2019 more than 200 attacks upon journalists were reported from different parts of the country. According to the study funded by Thakur Family Foundation Inc: in this period around 40 journalists have been killed of which 21 were directly linked to their professional work. Also, 198 serious incidences of attacks on journalists were reported.

Moreover, in the same period, of the more than 30 journalists who have been killed since 2010, there have been only three convictions. Since 2014 there has been not a single conviction for attacks on journalists in India, who are targeted for their investigative works.

Apart from prominent editors and senior journalists such as Gauri Lankesh, Shujaat Bukhari and J Dey-who who were killed in state capitals, a majority of the journalists killed were in small towns and villages, working with regional media as correspondents or stringers. They are primary information-gatherers on corruption, and unlawful activities of business people, powerful politicians, police and security forces.

Journalist Vikram Joshi died at Yashoda Hospital in Ghaziabad during treatment. He was shot in the head by Sarerah miscreants last Monday. The journalist was also beaten up badly by the miscreants before being shot. He lived in Pratap Vihar. At the time of the attack his two daughters were also sitting on the bike with hi. In Pratap Vihar itself, on July 16, the son of a policeman drunkenly rammed his car into the colonies, in which one person was killed. The accused was secretly acquitted by the Uttar Pradesh police.

On July 6, 2020 more than 100 goons attacked the house of senior journalist Prasantha Chakravorti also the General Secretary of Tripura Union of Working Journalist. The mob destroyed the entire house. As the journalist could not found at the time of the attack, the goons beat his brother and sister and left them in a shaky condition.

Media is now becoming a nerve center of our society playing a vital role in disseminating information to the people.

Similarly, a journalist from Kanpur(UP) working in Kampu Mail, Shubham Tripathi, was shot dead by unidentified persons while he was returning home with a friend on a motorcycle. Prior to his death, the journalist had told the police that he had been threatened by those involved in illegal sand mining and land encroachment that he was writing about. He was just 25 years old.

In the spate of attacks in the wake of protests over the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, journalists in Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Karnataka, have been detained, assaulted, their camera equipment snatched and even they were banished into a neighboring state!

Media is now becoming a nerve center of our society playing a vital role in disseminating information to the people. With its commitment to uphold truth, probity, and objectivity, media is helping in building up a just and corruption-free society.

Moreover, above all, freedom of expression is a universal human right and is not a prerogative of the politician. Nor it is the privilege of journalists. In their day-to-day work, journalists are simply exercising every citizen’s right to free speech.

The National Union of Journalist (India) is regularly raising such issues and fighting for justice through their state and national level demonstrations with the help of affiliated units and sending memorandum to concerned state and central level government bodies.

According to a senior journalist and the president of NUJ (India), enactment of a journalist protection act in all the states is necessary. Also, investigation of such cases should be carried out by senior officials, which will greatly address the violence against journalists and reduce the impunity of attackers.

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Dr Ashok Barthwal

Web Journalist . Core areas are crime & politics . Geographical area is Delhi (India)
http://www.dhanustankar.com

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