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Two dozen of their brethren killed since 1992, Indian Journalists ask for New Law to Protect their Rights

G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s national spokesman, rejected the CPJ findings, claiming there was no need for a separate law

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Sept 07, 2016: Indian journalists are demanding a fresh law that protects their rights in the wake of a new report that claims more than two dozen of their type has been killed since 1992 in the world’s most populous and renowned democracy.

“It is now extremely important to have some sort of cover for journalists, especially those who are vulnerable – the ones working in small towns, as they do not have the same level of support as journalists working in big cities,” said Jagtap Yadav, a senior journalist from Agra, in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state to Benar News.

“Investigative reporters and cameramen, particularly those covering politics and corruption, are working under constant threats. We need a new law that protects us,” Yadav said.

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Journalist Kishore Dave, the bureau chief of local daily “Jai Hind-Sanjh Samachar,” was stabbed to death on August 22, 2016, at his workplace in Junagadh, Gujarat, according to Indian media reports. Three suspects were arrested two days later. One of the suspects arrested was involved in a business partnership with and had issues with the journalist, New Delhi Television reported.

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Demand grows

Yadav said the call for a new law to protect the rights of Indian media workers began in May after two journalists were killed in Bihar while working on separate stories.

On May 13, two men on a motorcycle gunned down Rajdeo Ranjan, bureau chief of leading Hindi-language daily Hindustan, in the Siwan district of Bihar. A day earlier, Taza TV news channel reporter Akhilesh Pratap Singh was killed in a similar fashion in neighboring Jharkhand state.

The demand for increased protection gained support and attention after the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based international media overseer, released a report on Monday claiming that the Indian government has failed profusely to protect the journalists who were working to expose graft, Yadav said.

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The investigative report by CPJ shows that 27 Indian journalists have been killed during the past 24 years. The CPJ said it found only one case in the past 10 years where a suspect had been charged, prosecuted and convicted for killing a journalist.

Kishore Dave’s killing was not included in the CPJ report.

“As a group, we welcome the CPJ findings. It will strengthen our demand for a new law,” Yadav said.

The CPJ report also noted that India’s disreputably slow judiciary is a concern. “Even if a court hears the case, there will be delays,” the report said.

India, with its population of 1.25 billion people, has more than 30 million cases pending in the court system, according to the latest available official figures.

“It is becoming more and more difficult to work and report on [the] ground, partly because there are no credible institutions that one can turn toward,” said Sonal Mehrotra of NDTV to Benar News.

Mehrotra and a colleague were threatened with violence, abused and maltreated by a group of lawyers while reporting inside New Delhi’s Patiala House Courts for a story related to the arrest of a controversial student leader on charges of sedition in February.

“It is all very ironic as it happened in a court room, which is one of the most important pillars of a democratic society. Shockingly, it took me longer to file a police complaint than it took for the accused to get bail. And not much has moved forward since,” Mehrotra said.

Calls for law to shield press

The New Delhi-based Press Club of India president Rahul Jalali said a law on the books, the Working Journalists’ Act, provides some cover to regular employees of newspapers, but even press associations are “not clear about its exact implementations.”

“We need a new law that covers all working journalists, whether freelance or contractual, so that they are not exploited,” Jalali told in a recent interview. “I have observed that a majority of defamation cases in the past couple of years have been on journalists working for online magazines, which the present law does not protect.”

G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s national spokesman, rejected the CPJ findings, claiming there was no need for a separate law.

“I do not agree with the sentiment that there is shrinking space for free speech in India. This [the CPJ report] is mostly propaganda,” he was quoted saying.

“Yes, there have been incidents of journalists being targeted recently, but we have always made it a point to come forward and vehemently condemn such acts of violence [as] journalism continues to be a strong pillar of our democracy,” he added. (Benar News)

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  • Arya Sharan

    The media is expected to expose lies and tell truth but when they are the ones who suffer when they do so.

Next Story

Death Knell For The Rape Culture

The death penalty for the child rapist is going to see the light of the day

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Death knell for the rape culture
Death knell for the rape culture. Pixabay

By Salil Gewali

The death penalty for the child rapist is going to see the light of the day. Hearty thanks to the countless candle marchers. The credit also goes to those conscious media and columnists who all fueled the agitation and energized the activists. Here PM Modi’s dynamism can’t be overlooked either, because this ordinance, which was long overdue, has happened now.

Let’s all pray that the ‘fear of death’ will be an effective deterrent.  Hope, this will “frighten away” the real vices. In the meanwhile, it would also be very wise on the part of the government to look for other preventive measures since we have lot many “vices” in lot many avatars and assortments which only encourage the sex related crimes. There are also very dangerous “vices” which, when start to infect one’s thought-process, might give birth to the countless Trojan horses, Malwares, even virulent I-love-You. The virus infecting tragedy usually strikes ones very fast who are with weak inborn “antivirus”. This, in fact, turns “sane men into perverts” if one objectively analyses. But what is too bizarre is that some of such virus generating vices are let to flourish under the cover of silence while some are made to believe through media as “virtues” and while others as “talent” — with a whole lot of modish adornment and poetic adulation. Do you want to acknowledge that ones who cried hard against the despicable rape culture are the premier dealers of these vices? Some are producers too. I cut short here.  Because these days I fear the “thunder of hypocrisy” then the roars of the tiger in a jungle!

Candle March for death penalty of rapists.
Candle March. Pixabay

Yes, remaining complacent by mere hanging the perverts will be thus a downright immaturity. The identifying the causes of those vices that are hurting the society at large are equally important.  Of course, many try to overlook those vices as if they never make a bad impact upon the mindset an individual. Here I’ve an argument — has the heat of the hearth stopped boiling the water or burn your pack of currency notes to ash? As mentioned above, we can draw a perfect “analogy” between the virus infecting a computer leading to its inevitable “malfunction” with the people’s behavioral degeneration and wrong indulgences due to the continuous exposure and acceptance of vices.

Also Read: Rape Survivors in India Still Face Humiliation with Two-Finger tests and Barriers to Justice says Human Rights Watch

However, it would surely be good if the Government and awakened women organizations boldly pinpoint those forces as well which are culpable for presenting women as no less than commodities, and the dealers of the vices. In this, one is skeptical whether we can turn to the media with hope, or with doubt! Because, very absurdly, the definition of “good life” and its values have now been willfully distorted and redefined to suit the situation, plans and programs such that they would help further the agendas of that forces which rule the roost.

Stop the Terror of Rape.
Stop the Terror of Rape.

Anyway, whether one agrees or disagree, disinfecting/detoxing the “mindset” of the society is the only pathway to the sane society which we are now crying for. The healthy thought, healthy attitude, healthy acts can only toll the death knell for any kind of rapes or any kind of depravity.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali