Clamorworld Exclusive: Is India Turning Out To Be Unsafe For Journalists?

 

Some tweets this morning revealed a rather shocking truth about the state of journalist’s safety in our country.

Can you believe, 5 journalists were killed in 2016

9 journalists were killed in 2015

So far close to 50 journalist murders have been recorded since 1992

The saddening and the shocking fact is there isn’t a conviction in any of the cases. India is amongst the 3 most dangerous countries for journalists, next only to war-torn Syria and Iraq. It is not just shameful but also perhaps highlights how toothless law enforcement is in certain cases. In fact, some private international organisations have even highlighted the necessity to draft a separate policy to safeguard their lives.

I do agree that the enforcement system might be overworked in this country with a population close to 1.5 billion. Many key positions in the CBI and Judiciary remain vacant and the staff most times handles more than they can manage.

But does it all justify the murders? Most times these journalists who were sacrificed at the altar of power were little known vernacular print journalists, who silently dedicated their life to their profession. Is that the reason why their death did not matter as much as other personalities who were famous.

Someone I follow on Twitter has put up an interesting study on the number of tweets fellow journalists posted after the murder of the likes of Rakesh Sharma, Nemi Chand Jain and Indradev Yadav. Sadly none. Was it only because they belonged to the Vernacular medium or was it because they did not make any difference to the power platforms in Lutyen’s Delhi.

I somehow remember an incident over 20 years ago. A fellow journalist from Tanzania was part of an exchange course in my Alma Mater and he lauded how wonderful it feels to be in a country with a free press. As an Indian, I felt rather proud of the freedom of speech and expression that our Constitution guarantees.

But are the corrupt politicians trying to silence the same with the powers that the Constitutions bestows upon them for our betterment? Is the Govt unwilling to act to hide their own misdeeds?

In fact, a 2017 Index on freedom of the press, showed India ranked a shameful 136 in a list of 180 countries. Imagine both Pakistan and Afghanistan are ahead of India in this list.

It is time, we started seeking answers for the same! Or else fearless journalism, freedom of press might soon become mere words in a dictionary.

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