NEW DELHI — The freedom of press is passing through a challenging phase in India with journalists continued to be persecuted through cases and threats. The book ‘Silencing Journalists in India’, launched recently revealed that 65 journalists have been killed in the line duty from the year 2000 to 2018.
Uttar Pradesh emerges as the most dangerous state for journalists according to the study with as many as 12 journalists were reported killed during the period – highest among states.
From Gauri Lankesh, editor of Gauri Lankesh Patrike who was shot dead outside her home in Bangalore on September 5, 2017 to the Rising Kashmir editor, Shujaat Bukhari who was killed on June 14, 2018 by terrorists in Srinagar, the study profiled all 65 journalists who have laid their lives for writing fearlessly.
‘Silencing the Journalists in India’ has been published by Human Rights and Law Network (HRLN) in partnership with Press Club of India, Mumbai Press Club, Indian Women Press Corps, Delhi Union of Journalists, Brihmumbai Journalists Union and Media studies Group. The study also compiled the cases being initiated against journalists in an attempt to silence them.
The book also features 31 journalists who were framed in various cases for their critical writing in 12 states between 2000 and 2018.
Speaking on release of the book Anant Bagaitkar, President of Press Club of India underlined the challenges the media is facing and said that civil society, press clubs and media bodies should come together and create a platform to safeguard freedom of press.
Anil Chamadia, senior journalist and convener of Media Studies Group said attacks on media persons are well orchestrated and corporates and governments are taking advantage of loopsholes in legal system to put curbs on media freedom.
The panel of speakers felt the growing need to have a broad based network of journalists bodies. Echoing the demand President of Delhi Union of Journalists SK Pande said that weakening of laws to protect journalists have a negative effect on unions and in changed scenario journalists’ rights must be defended collectively.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer and founder of Human Rights Law Network Colin Gonsalves highlighted the misuse of sedition law to silence journalists critical to governments. Gonsalves proposed a committee for the defence of journalists which will work in synergy with lawyers, journalists bodies and civil society to protect media persons from the onslaught.
General Secretaries of Delhi Union of Journalists and Indian Women Press Corps Sujata Madhok and Vineeta Pandey also endorsed the view that journalists must unite in defending the press freedom and rights of journalists.
The book ‘Silencing Journalists in India’ with foreword by founding editor of The Citizen Seema Mustafa was launched on October 3 by Anant Bagaitkar, President Press Club of India, SK Pande, President Delhi Union of Journalists, Vineeta Pandey, General Secretary IWPC, Colin Gonsalves, Founder, Human Rights and Law network and Anil Chamadia, Convener of Media Studies Group.