By Gaurav Sharma
With mounting attacks on scribes across the world, the fourth estate in India is drowning in the murky ocean of media intolerance.
Uncovering the truth is the profession of a journalist. However, truth always comes at a cost. Presently it is charged with the markedly heavy price of death.
Freedom House, an independent research and human advocacy group, contends that attacks on journos in the last decade has ebbed to its nadir. In India, the violence has risen rapidly with more than 80 journalists having been deprived of their lives in the last 25 years.
In Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh, Jagendra Singh, a Hindi journalist was burnt to death at the behest of a politician. On the same day, body of a journalist from Madhya Pradesh was found in Maharashtra while a photojournalist was beaten up in Jharkhand.
More recently, Arun Chaturvedi, an editor of a Hindi weekly was smashed with an iron rod for objecting to dumping of waste on the roadside.
While the government keeps making renewed assurances about their safety, little to no action has been taken against people previously involved in brazen attacks on media persons.
Compensating families of slain journalists without bringing to book the accused, is a denigrating attempt to buy their silence. Concrete steps need to be undertaken to ensure the cessation of such dastardly backlashes.
Immediate filing of FIR against such attacks is a basic necessity. Press Council of India’s (PCI) tinkering with the idea of an independent social security mechanism for proving insurance cover to journalists needs to be actualized.
It is now an established fact that government’s apathy is stifling the voice of the independent journalism. Moreover, for its crucial branch of investigative journalism to function freely, adequate security mechanisms are but a prerequisite.
Beyond blaming the government, the broader question of press freedom in today’s times of increasing conflict and intolerance can only be answered when each citizen understands the grave danger that violence poses to the democratic fabric of the nation.