New Delhi: A new study on attacks on journalists in India in the last five years has revealed that there have been more than 200 serious attacks on journalists in the country in the period between 2014 and 2019.
According to the study titled Getting Away with Murder, “There were 40 killings of journalists between 2014-19. Of these, 21 have been confirmed as related to their journalism.”
Moreover, in the cases of more than 30 journalists who have been killed since 2010, there have been only three convictions, namely in the cases of J. Dey (killed in 2011), Rajesh Mishra (killed in 2012) and Tarun Acharya (killed in 2014). As per the study, the perpetrators of the killings and attacks included government agencies, security forces, political party members, religious sects, student groups, criminal gangs and local mafias.
|Category of perpetrator||Number|
|Police and politician||1|
|Right wing, Hindutva||1|
|State security forces||1|
|Maoists and/or splinter groups||2|
|Political party supporters||1|
|Illegal activity exposed||Number|
|Sand and liquor||1|
|Unidentified (investigations in progress)||4|
The study further notes that, “since 2014, there has not been a single conviction in attacks on journalists in India, targeted for their investigative work.”
As per the conclusion of the study, “The perpetrators for the killing of journalists and the attacks on them have got away with their attacks, aided by poor or indifferent police investigation. Often, law enforcers disbelieve the claim of the journalist, families or colleagues of killed journalists that the reason for the attack was some personal dispute or corrupt practice on the part of the journalist.”
It also reveals that, attacks on women journalists in the field have increased over a period of time. And the targeted attacks on women journalists covering the Sabarimala temple entry were sustained and vicious. As many as 19 women journalists were attacked as per the study.
“Another point of concern,” notes the study, “is the increasing polarisation within the media, with clear biases and stances taken by media houses owned by or close to political parties, has also played a role in the attacks on journalists in India. The tussle between newsmakers to take control of news coverage and oppose the coverage of television channels perceived to have a bias is not new.”
According to the study, apart from the killing of editors Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru and Shujaat Bukhari in Srinagar and the death of Doordarshan cameraperson Achyutananda Sahu in an attack by a Maoist group on security forces in Chhattisgarh, “all other cases of killings of journalists pertain to those working as staffers or stringers for regional language publications, reporting on crime and corruption in the Indian hinterland. At least seven cases pertain to journalists pursuing investigative work on illegal activities, including reports on sand mining, illicit liquor trade, land grab, water mafia etc.”
The study has been carried out by journalists and media researchers and was commissioned by the Thakur Family Foundation
Commenting on the latest attacks on journalists in the wake of anti-CAA and NRC protests, a press statement by the researchers of the study said, “there’s little expectation of accountability or even redressal of these injustices, given the pathetic record of justice delivery of the last six years.”
As per media reports, at least 14 journalists have been attacked, intimidated and harassed by the police across the country between December 11 to December 21. Notably, a large number of them belong to the Muslim community.