Violence against journalists: India
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
1980-2017: some prominent crimes against journalists
Journalist Gauri Lank esh's cold-blooded mur der raised the right ques tions about the sanctity of freedom of press, part of fundamental right to speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution. The silencing of a voice of dissent united us in voicing our protest to such intolerant retribution.
The protests across India against Lankesh's murder must serve as a notice to politicians, political parties, mining mafia, criminals and goondas that journalists will not take such attacks lying down. They cannot be silenced nor can dissent be curbed. In her death, Lankesh united journalists to raise their voice against violence on free speech.
International organisation `Committee to Protect Journalists' put Lankesh at the top of the list of 41 journalists killed in India since 1992. But the CPJ list did not include seven gruesome murders of journalists between June 1, 2015 and October 6, 2015.
Most of us did not hear anything about them as they worked either as stringers with national dailies or as reporters with local newspapers and TV channels. But their murders have an uncanny resemblance to the manner in which Lankesh was killed.
On June 1, 2015, Shahjahanpur-based journalist Jagendra Singh was burnt to death during a police raid at his home. In his dying declaration, he held SP minister Rammurti Singh Verma responsible for his immolation as he had exposed Verma's alleged illegal mining activities. Two months later, his son filed an affidavit saying his father had self-immolated. We did not demand a fair probe either for the murder or for the change of stand.
On August 1, 2015, journalist Devendra Chaturvedi was shot dead right outside his house in Kannauj district. A fortnight later, a stringer with a Hindi daily , Sanjay Pathak, was brutally killed in Faridpur of Bareilly district.
On October 5, 2015, a journalist with local TV channel, Hemant Yadav, was shot dead by motorcycle borne gunmen in Chandauli district of UP. Wish we had protested together against these killings and the rising intolerance in UP under the Akhilesh Yadav-led government against journalists engaged in exposing corruption. When RJD and JD(U) were together in a secular coalition and ruling Bihar, two such incidents escaped our notice. On September 29, 2015, a freelancer Ajay Vidrohi was shot dead in Sitamarhi. Less than a month later, Mithilesh Pandey of Dainik Jagran daily was shot dead by unidentified gunmen who barged into his home in Paraiya block of Kashta village in Gaya district.
Did we miss these killings as signs of rising intolerance because these investigative journalists were working to expose black deeds in the lawless, mafiaruled hinterland for a pittance while braving threats to their lives? Or, did we give it a miss trusting that these were aberrations in states ruled by secular parties, which would bring the culprits to book? Sandeep Kothari, who worked with Hindi daily Nai Duniya in Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh, was another who paid with his death. He was engaged in exposing illegal manganese mining in the area. He was kidnapped, choked to death and burnt. Why did we not protest this? May be, Kothari was not known to those among us who are opinion makers.
Killing of journalists happens irrespective of the political party in power. Because politicians, especially those engaged in dark deeds, cannot tolerate a journalist exposing their real faces.
In 1980, the rape and murder of a woman journalist, Chhabirani, had shocked Odisha. Her husband Naba Kishore wrote for `Niakhunta', `Durmukh' and `Nirbhik' newspapers. Chhabi was a reporter for `Durmukh'. Kishore had written against the ill-deeds of the wealthiest man of the area.The rich man engaged two local Congress leaders, who in turn engaged their henchmen to torture Kishore and force him to leave the village.His wife was kidnapped, brutally gang raped and killed. Police arrested Kishore and forced him to change his statement. He did not.
The trial went on for years. The high court acquitted the accused. But the SC recounted the hapless tale of the journalist, the nexus between politicians and criminals and the abdication of duty by the judges. It convicted the perpetrators, but after 22 years of the crime.
A broken Kishore had nothing to rejoice. He was broken because he had no support from any national journalist or association.His story was never told to the nation, for he was a small-time journalist who had dared to do his duty, braving the muscle power of vindictive politicians.
This brings us to an important issue. Are we selective in our protest? Are we too close to certain governments and too bitter about others? As journalists, colour of government must not matter to us. For, we are colour-blind and see everything in black and white. But do we? Journalists -small, big and famous -face similar challenges. Attacks on journalists and their killings are intended to scare those fearlessly engaged in exposing the corrupt and the politician-bureaucrat-mafia nexus. By protesting some murders and ignoring the killing of unsung heroes in the hinterland, we do a disservice to the right to free speech, the backbone of journalism.
2013-17: Journalists killed in Bangladesh, India
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Journalists killed in Bangladesh, India and other countries, 2013-’17