No country for journalists | Herald of the Deccan


The India Press Freedom Report 2020, released by the Rights and Risk Analysis Group, presents a grim picture of the state of media freedom in the country, supporting it with many details, facts and figures. The report is comprehensive and captures assaults on journalists, classifying them according to the regions where they took place, the gender of the journalists, the nature of the assaults and the laws invoked against them. It indicates that at least 228 journalists, including 12 women journalists, and two media houses were targeted during the year. Thirteen journalists were killed, 37 arrested or detained and 101 physically attacked. At least 64 FIRs have been filed and various laws, including the UAPA, have been invoked against them. Uttar Pradesh leads states in targeting journalists. Both state and non-state actors such as mobs, disbelievers, members of political parties and users of social media have targeted journalists.

The report is not surprising. Press freedom has diminished in the country and the pressures and attacks on the media have steadily increased over the years. It has been recognized and reported within and outside the country by journalists, their organizations and other agencies. There is also a growing awareness of the diminishing freedom in society in general. The media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has created a gallery of world leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who have restricted press freedom. In the World Press Freedom Report 2021, India is ranked 142 out of 180 countries, and it has lost nine positions in the past five years. India is classified as a “bad” country for journalism and one of the most dangerous countries for journalists. Freedom House also demoted India’s status from “free” to a “partially free” country on the basis of the level of civil liberties and political rights of citizens. Freedom of the press is an important indicator of these rights.

Freedom of the press is suppressed, restricted or limited in various ways. There are physical attacks or intimidation against journalists. They are sued under draconian laws that even make it difficult to get a bond. It is not only individual journalists, but media organizations are also under pressure. Social media posts attract negative opinions and actions. The report cites a range of reasons, such as reporting on various issues, protesting against government actions and policies and expressing critical views on certain issues, for filing complaints against journalists or for taking other action. against them. Besides governments, non-state actors also pose threats to press freedom. Freedom of the press is the lifeblood of democracy. Its reduction will endanger democracy.

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