‘Six journalists killed and 121 journalists/media houses targeted in India’
‘Maximum attacks in JK and Tripura’
New Delhi: The Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) in its “India Press Freedom Report 2021” released on Wednesday stated that at least six journalists were killed and 121 journalists/media houses including 108 journalists and 13 media houses/newspapers were targeted in India.
The RRAG is an independent think-tank based in New Delhi. It conducts risks analysis to prevent violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms with a specific focus on the threats to the rule of law and democracy.
The highest number of journalists/media organisations targeted was in Jammu and Kashmir (25), followed by Uttar Pradesh (23); Madhya Pradesh (16); Tripura (15); Delhi (8); Bihar (6); Assam (5); Haryana and Maharashtra (4 each); Goa and Manipur (3 each); Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal (2 each); and Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Kerala (1 each). Eight female journalists faced arrest, summon and registration of First Information Reports (FIRs).
“The widespread attacks on the press freedom from Jammu and Kashmir (JK) to Tripura are an indicator of the continuing deterioration of civic space in the country. The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 is an affirmation of the government’s intent to crack down on media freedom,” said Suhas Chakma, Director of the RRAG.
“The spotlight on attacks against media freedom during 2021 remained on Jammu and Kashmir. Out of the 17 journalists arrested in the country, JK reported the highest cases of arrest/detention with five journalists; followed by Delhi (3); Maharashtra, Manipur and Tripura (2 each); and Assam, Chhattisgarh and Haryana (1 each).” Chakma said.
In 2021, FIRs against 44 journalists were registered including in some cases multiple FIRs against the same journalists in multiple States.
Uttar Pradesh reported the highest registration of FIRs with nine; followed by six each in Delhi and JK; and three in Bihar; among others. Out of the 44 journalists, FIRs were filed against 21 journalists under Section 153 of the IPC relating to promoting enmity.
In 2021, at least 24 journalists were allegedly physically attacked, threatened, harassed and obstructed from doing their professional works by public officials including police across the country. Out of the 24 journalists, 17 were allegedly beaten by police. Physical attacks on journalists by police were mainly reported from Jammu and Kashmir, the RRAG said.
In 2021, the Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax Department raided offices of media houses/newspapers and houses of journalists who were critical of policies and functioning of the Government. The media houses and their officials raided included Newsclick in February, Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar in July and Newslaundry in September.
In 2021, out of the 121 journalists/media houses, at least 34 journalists/media houses faced attacks from the non-State actors, mainly political party activists, mafia and online trolls.
Of these, the statement said, six journalists were killed and at least 28 journalists/media houses were physically attacked or harassed/ threatened online.
The maximum number of attacks by non-state actors took place in Tripura with attacks on 10 journalists and 5 (five) media houses followed by Uttar Pradesh (3) and Tamil Nadu (2), the statement ends.