New Delhi: India is among the top three countries in the world when it comes to deaths of journalists due to COVID-19, a Geneva-based media rights body has found.
As many as three journalists have been dying in India every day out of COVID-19 complications, the Press Emblem Campaign has reported.
As on April 26, as many as 107 journalists had died in India, which is only behind Brazil (with 181 casualties) and Peru (with 140). Forty-five of India’s journalists have passed away in the last two weeks alone, the report notes.
Since the report was filed, seven more journalists passed away, according to PEC’s own database, taking the toll up to 114.
Other affected countries include Mexico (106 dead), Italy (52), Bangladesh (51), Colombia (49), USA (47), Ecuador (46),
United Kingdom (28), Dominican Republic (27), Pakistan (25), Turkey (24), Iran and Russia (21 each), Argentina and Venezuela (17 each), Panama (16), Spain (15) and Ukraine (14).
Across the world, 1,184 journalists have died after testing positive for COVID-19 in 76 countries, since March 2020, the PEC has reported.
The PEC’s report mentions the deaths of Amjad Badshah (Odisha), Tanmoy Chakraborty (Tripura), Vivek Bendre, Sachin Shinde, Jairam Sawant and Sukhnandan Gavai (in Maharashtra), Ram Prakash Gupta (Bihar), Rohitash Gupta (Uttar Pradesh) and Ramjan Ali (Andhra Pradesh).
The PEC report’s author, Nava Thakuria, notes that the actual number of casualties within the media may be higher as “established media houses had not reported the actual number of casualties” and were callous in reporting their own COVID-19 positive cases fearing authorities’ intervention.
In addition to this report, the PEC maintains a database of journalists across the world who have passed away after testing positive for COVID-19. The database has the names, ages and biographical details of the journalists.
On April 28 alone, six Indian journalists are recorded as having passed away. They are Anil Basnoi (Jaipur), Sridhar Dharmasanam (Hyderabad), Raju Mishra (Ghaziabad), Akash Saxena (Gwalior), and Kondra Srinivas Goud and Sammi Reddy (both from Mancherial).
On April 27, Sadanand Shinde of Mumbai passed away.
In addition to the challenges of maintaining a profession that requires social contact and travelling at a time of great risk, Indian journalists have also had to face degrees of censorship and attack while reporting on the very health crisis that threatens them as well. The Wire has reported how Kanpur District Magistrate Alok Tiwari wrote to the Uttar Pradesh newspaper Amar Ujala after the latter reported a number of cremations far in excess of the local administration’s COVID-19 death tally.
India is witnessing an unprecedented crisis as the second wave of COVID-19 has resulted in a devastating shortage of medical oxygen, hospital beds, injections, test kits, and other essential supply.
India has been listed under countries considered “bad” for journalism and is among the most dangerous places in the world for journalists, according to Reporters Without Borders, which published its 2021 World Press Freedom Index recently.