January 1, 2017: 2016 was a tough year for journalists around the globe. Around 122 journalists and media professionals lost their lives to targeted killings or in natural disasters and accidents. India witnessed the death of 5 scribes and was in the eighth position on a list, which was topped by Iraq.
According to the annual report of International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), countries like Africa, Middle Ease and Arab World regions, Asia Pacific, Europe and the America witnessed targeted killings including murders, crossfire incidents and bomb attacks.
The IFJ said that Iraq has the highest number of media killings. With 15 targeted killings, it is ahead of Afghanistan and Mexico with 13 and 11 killings respectively. Next on the list is Yemen with 8, Guatemala and Syria with 6, India and Pakistan with 5 killings. India, Pakistan, Yemen and Syria saw no or little change in the number of targeted killings from 2015, mentioned PTI.
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According to the statistics published by the largest global federation of Journalists’ trade unions, in addition to 93 targeted killings, 20 Brazilian sports journalists died in a plane crash in Medellin, Colombia.
Although the number of targeted killings of journalists in 2016 was less from the previous years’, the IFJ warned against reports of rising threats, intimidation and self-censorship. These acts attack freedom of expression, mentioned PTI.
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According to the report, in India, Bureau Chief of Jan Sandesh Times, Tarun Mishra, died on 14th February. Bureau Chief of Dainik Hindustan, Rajdeo Ranjan, on 13th May; Journalist with TaazaTV, Indradev Yadav died on 16th May; Bureau Chief of Jai Hind, Kishore Dave on 22nd August and Correspondent of Dainik Bhaskar, Dharmendra Singh, on 12th November. India has 6 reports of targeted killings of media professionals in 2015 including journalists from Hindi daily Dainik Jagaran and news channel Aaj Tak.
According to PTI, IFJ President Philippe Leruth said, “Any decrease in violence against journalists and media staff is always welcome but these statistics and the continued deliberate targeting of media workers in many incidents causing loss of life give little room for comfort nor ground for hope to see the end of the current media safety crisis.”
IFJ has recorded at least 2,297 killings of journalists in cross-fire incidents, bomb attacks and targeted assassinations till 2015.
Reputed journalist, editor and activist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead on September 5 by three unidentified men outside her house
Lankesh was an editor of popular Kannada tabloid “Lankesh Patrike”
Protests have erupted in various cities in Kerala following Gauri Lankesh’s murder
Karnataka, September 6, 2017 : Protests erupted across Karnataka on Wednesday morning condemning the dastardly killing of senior Kannada journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead at her residence here on Tuesday night by three unidentified men.
Journalists, activists, writers, thinkers and women organisations were seen among the crowds that gathered in the city and across the state condemning the killing of the journalist.
People were seen gathered at the Town Hall here for a silent protest, holding placards. “You can kill a person but not their ideas,” read one placard.
Silent demonstration was also staged by journalist groups at the Victoria Hospital grounds, where the autopsy is being done.
Across the state, protests were witnessed in Mangaluru, Kalaburagi, Dharwad, Koppal among other regions, where citizens took to the streets.
Journalists in Mysuru, wearing black ribbons around their shoulders, also held a protest in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s Office.
Massive protests have also been planned across the country in various cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad among others.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has also cancelled all his official programmes on Wednesday.
“CM has cancelled all engagements, including a day-long trip to Kerala in view of the developments since Tuesday night,” said an official from the Chief Minister’s Office.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi also expressed shock and distress over the murder on Wednesday, saying “this can’t and should not be tolerated”.
Accusing the BJP of silencing dissent, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said it was a part of their ideology. “Anyone who speaks against BJP is silenced…” Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday.
Gauri Lankesh, 55, was shot dead by three unidentified men who had shot her when she returned home from her office in the city.
Lankesh was an editor of popular Kannada tabloid “Lankesh Patrike”.
In November 2016, Gauri Lankesh was sentenced to six months in jail after a defamation case was filed against her for a report against Bharatiya Janata Party leaders. She was out on bail pending an appeal. (IANS)
Sanjay Mehta is a journalist and a student of law hailing from Hazaribagh, Jharkhand
The journalist went and stayed with the tribes people of Saranda, thereby witnessing their living conditions
Sanjay Mehta’s report reveals the plight of tribes have been completely neglected by the system and the government leading to their shambolic living conditions
July 06, 2017:
Sanjay Mehta, a student of law at Vinoba Bhave University, is also a journalist hailing from Hazaribagh, Jharkhand. On 21st June, Mehta decided to visit Saranda forest region to get a closer glimpse of the various tribes that inhabit the place. This was Sanjay Mehta’s own initiative as he considers himself personally bonded with the clan.
Having visited many villages in the region and living among these tribes, Mehta developed a deeper understanding of the poor living conditions of these people who are ignored by both, the system as well as the government.
The Saranda forest, which lies in the West Singhbhum district, is approximately 200Kms away from Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand. Mehta reports that the living condition of the people is inhumane. The tribal clan is desperate for a better life. He continues that the offsprings of these people are victims of malnutrition and their present condition is fretting.
The pregnant women have frightful conditions to encounter every day throughout their pregnancy. Additionally, there are problems with the drinking water due to its high iron ore content. Mehta has discovered these problems since his visit to the region where the entire atmosphere is tragical and disappointing. Ignored by the authorities, it is as if these people are left to work things out on their own. Such situations suffered by the entire ethnic group is ridiculously disturbing.
Villages like Meghahatuburu, Kotgarh, Gua, Tatiba, Lokasi, among many others, are struggling for basic necessities of life. The doctors in the hospitals are under-staffed, schools lack students who suffer from malnutrition while the entire community have only the nature for survival (which isn’t enough in today’s world). Having failed completely, the questions should be aimed towards the Govt.
Sanjay Mehta also alleges that the Feb 2017 report prepared by UNICEF and the Central Govt has falsely estimated that only 20% of the kids in the Saranda region suffer from malnutrition. Having lived there for 15 days now, the journalist estimates a much higher statistic than 20%. He reports that almost every kid is under-nutrition and often even minor diseases are life threatening. These deaths go unnoticed and often ignored.
The Govt. facilities are non-existent. The water problem combined with extreme unemployment implies just how badly the Govt has been performing. Even basic electricity is a rare thing in some villages. In some areas, the roads are constructed badly, and in others, you can only see crooked paths.
The region is a mining paradise making it complicated for development policies to be implemented here. Most of the land is leased out to SAIL, a public sector company, and thus the amount of money received from the centre for development is often sent back. SAIL has its own CSR initiative and therefore, do not provide an approval certificate. Although the officers have been urged time and again to look into the matter, there still has been no progress.
In his report, Sanjay Mehta has also documented the experiences of the villagers. Many people also told that the poor quality of water has infected their feet and nails. The women of Noamundi grieved that they fry insects as their meal. It is, in fact, an essential nutrition in their diet at this time of the season.
One villager has expressed his frustration aimed at the government. He said that the kids of the village are dying of malnutrition and malaria. The government is paying no attention to it.
Another man from a village called Kiriburu has declared the government’s policies as a complete failure. The people of the village have not reaped any benefits that the government had promised.
Juda Bodra, hailing from the Gua village, stated “I am unemployed and have no benefits from the state. This is very difficult for us”
Badapasia village resident Ghanshyam Bobonge said that the conditions for tribe’s people are miserable. “We are living the lives’ of the lowest class. No officials come and address our griefs”
When the journalist highlighted this issue in a Facebook post, it was reported and henceforth removed. The Journalist also concludes that gradually the villagers are getting more and more angry towards the establishment, which is unhealthy for any political system. Sanjay Mehta can be followed on Twitter @JournalistMehta
By Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394
Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS
June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.
Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.
Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.
Confusion leads to mistakes
All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.
Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.
“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”
Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.
Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.
“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.
In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.
IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.
IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.
Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.
“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.
IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.
Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.
IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.
Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.
Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.
IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.
Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.
“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.
IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.
Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.
“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)