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Since 1992, 27 Indian journalists investigating corruption have been murdered, says Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) of New York

Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir are the most dangerous areas to report from, given their "volatile" institutional structures and "complex" civil societies, the report said

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New Delhi, September 1, 2016: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a non-profit organisation based in New York, stated that as many as 27 journalists have been murdered in Indian direct retaliation for their work since 1992.

Lately, the CPJ reported, ‘Dangerous pursuit: In India, journalists who cover corruption may pay with their lives’, tells the stories of Jagendra Singh in Uttar Pradesh, Umesh Rajput in Chhattisgarh and Akshay Singh in Madhya Pradesh.

“The challenges faced by India’s press are highlighted by the cases of Jagendra Singh, Umesh Rajput, and Akshay Singh. Corruption was the impetus for all three journalists’ final reports and in all three cases, there have been no convictions,” Sumit Galhotra, CPJ’s Asia Program senior research associate, wrote in the report.

Freelancer Jagendra Singh, who died after being set on fire allegedly by the police in June 2015, was investigating allegations that a local minister was involved in land grabs and a rape. Before he was shot dead in January 2011, Umesh Rajput was investigating allegations of medical negligence and claims that the son of a politician was involved illegal gambling. Investigative reporter Akshay Singh was working on a story linked to the US $1 billion Vyapam admissions scandal — tests for professional jobs run by the Madhya Pradesh government — “when he died unexpectedly in July 2015”.

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Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir are the most dangerous areas to report from (statistics do not put Chhattisgarh in the top three), given their “volatile” institutional structures and “complex” civil societies, the report said.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a global advocacy, called India“Asia’s deadliest country for Media personnel, ahead of both Pakistan and Afghanistan”, IndiaSpend reported in April 2016.

The CPJ report also shows how small-town journalists face greater risks than those from larger cities, and how India’s culture of impunity is leaving the country’s Mediavulnerable to threats and attacks. “They rarely get support from their employers if they are targeted,” Sujata Madhok, general secretary of the DelhiUnion of Journalists, told CPJ. “The gulf between journalists working in rural or remote areas and those working in big cities is huge”.

“The language a reporter writes in and, most importantly, what they are writing about — especially if it challenges the powerful — increase the vulnerability,” P. Sainath, co-founder of People’s Archive of Rural India, wrote in the report.

“While rural and small-town journalists often have to cover multiple beats, those included in CPJ’s list focused mainly on corruption, crime, and politics: three beats often closely intertwined,” the report said. “This hasn’t changed too much in the past three decades, but it has become worse with the retreat of the mainstream Media from covering rural India in any depth.”

Police are responsible for the first stages in any investigation, Geeta Sheshu, consulting editor of The Hoot, a Mediawatchdog, told CPJ. “A faulty first information report, not applying the appropriate sections of the law, not clearly recording witness statements or protecting vulnerable witnesses, and not following up on preliminary investigations can be damaging.”

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The CPJ has made various recommendations to the central government, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probing the death of Akshay Singh and Umesh Rajput, the Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh state governments and the Indian media.

These include: Provide sufficient resources and political support to improve the capacity of authorities to conduct timely investigations and trials relating to crimes against journalists, including freelancers, bloggers, and those who publish news on social media;

Immediately transfer the investigation into the 2015 death of Jagendra Singh in Uttar Pradesh from state police to the CBI; and employers should establish clear mechanisms for staff and freelancers to report threats, harassment, or attacks, and offer appropriate support. (IANS)

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  • Kabir Chaudhary

    Couldn’t agree more. Vayyapam scam for instance.

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    Definitely true. It should be seen as a serious matter of concern..these politics are let to control or even take life’s of those working for nation and its ethics.

  • Arya Sharan

    Fair and ethical reporting is the what society demand from the media but when the truth is revealed, the same media has to suffer.

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  • Kabir Chaudhary

    Couldn’t agree more. Vayyapam scam for instance.

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    Definitely true. It should be seen as a serious matter of concern..these politics are let to control or even take life’s of those working for nation and its ethics.

  • Arya Sharan

    Fair and ethical reporting is the what society demand from the media but when the truth is revealed, the same media has to suffer.

Next Story

Most Terrible Water Crisis Ever In History Leaves Millions Of Indians Thirsty

6 percent of GDP is very much dependent on water.

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A woman washes clothes as her daughter bathes in the Yamuna River on a hot day in New Delhi, India, April 24, 2017.
A woman washes clothes as her daughter bathes in the Yamuna River on a hot day in New Delhi, India, April 24, 2017. VOA

Weak infrastructure and a national shortage have made water costly all over India, but Sushila Devi paid a higher price than most. It took the deaths of her husband and son to force authorities to supply it to the slum she calls home.

“They died because of the water problem, nothing else,” said Devi, 40, as she recalled how a brawl over a water tanker carrying clean drinking water in March killed her two relatives and finally prompted the government to drill a tubewell.

“Now things are better. But earlier … the water used to be rusty, we could not even wash our hands or feet with that kind of water,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Delhi.

India is “suffering from the worst water crisis in its history”, threatening hundreds of millions of lives and jeopardising economic growth, a government think-tank report said in June.

From the northern Himalayas to the sandy, palm-fringed beaches in the south, 600 million people – nearly half India’s population – face acute water shortage, with close to 200,000 dying each year from polluted water.

Residents like Devi queue daily with pipes, jerry cans and buckets in hand for water from tankers – a common lifeline for those without a safe, reliable municipal supply – often involving elbowing, pushing and punching.

On the rare occasions water does flow from taps, it is often dirty, leading to disease, infection, disability and even death, experts say.

“The water was like poison,” said Devi, who still relies on the tanker for drinking water, outside her one-room shanty in the chronically water-stressed Wazirpur area of the capital Delhi.

“It is better now, but still it is not completely drinkable. It is alright for bathing and washing the dishes.”

Water pollution is a major challenge, the report said, with nearly 70 percent of India’s water contaminated, impacting three in four Indians and contributing to 20 percent of the country’s disease burden.

Yet only one-third of its wastewater is currently treated, meaning raw sewage flows into rivers, lakes and ponds – and eventually gets into the groundwater.

“Our surface water is contaminated, our groundwater is contaminated. See, everywhere water is being contaminated because we are not managing our solid waste properly,” said the report’s author Avinash Mishra.
Loss of livelihood

Meanwhile, unchecked extraction by farmers and wealthy residents has caused groundwater levels to plunge to record lows, says the report.

It predicts that 21 major cities, including New Delhi and India’s IT hub of Bengaluru, will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting 100 million people.

The head of WaterAid India VK Madhavan said the country’s groundwater was now heavily contaminated.

“We are grappling with issues, with areas that have arsenic contamination, fluoride contamination, with salinity, with nitrates,” he said, listing chemicals that have been linked to cancer.

Arsenic and fluoride occur naturally in the groundwater, but become more concentrated as the water becomes scarcer, while nitrates come from fertilisers, pesticides and other industrial waste that has seeped into the supply.

The level of chemicals in the water was so high, he said, that bacterial contamination – the source of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid – “is in the second order of problems”.

“Poor quality of water – that is loss of livelihood. You fall ill because you don’t have access to safe drinking water, because your water is contaminated.”

Currently, only 70 percent of India’s states treat less than half of their wastewater.
Currently, only 70 percent of India’s states treat less than half of their wastewater. pixabay

“The burden of not having access to safe drinking water, that burden is greatest on the poor and the price is paid by them.”

Frothy lakes and rivers

Crippling water problems could shave 6 percent off India’s gross domestic product, according to the report by the government think-tank, Niti Aayog.

“This 6 percent of GDP is very much dependent on water. Our industry, our food security, everything will be at stake,” said Mishra.

“It is a finite resource. It is not infinite. One day it can (become) extinct,” he said, warning that by 2030 India’s water supply will be half of the demand.

To tackle this crisis, which is predicted to get worse, the government has urged states – responsible for supplying clean water to residents – to prioritise treating waste water to bridge the supply and demand gap and to save lives.

Currently, only 70 percent of India’s states treat less than half of their wastewater.

Every year, Bengaluru and New Delhi make global headlines as their heavily polluted water bodies emit clouds of white toxic froth due to a mix of industrial effluents and domestic garbage dumped into them.

In Bengaluru – once known as the “city of lakes” and now doomed to go dry – the Bellandur Lake bursts into flames often, sending plumes of black smoke into sky.

The Yamuna river that flows through New Delhi can be seen covered under a thick, detergent-like foam on some days.

On other days, faeces, chemicals and ashes from human cremations float on top, forcing passers-by to cover their mouths and noses against the stench.

That does not stop 10-year-old Gauri, who lives in a nearby slum, from jumping in every day.

With no access to water, it is the only way to cool herself down during India’s scorching summers, when temperatures soar to 45 Celsius (113 Fahrenheit).

“There usually is not enough water for us to take a shower, so we come here,” said Gauri, who only gave her first name, as she and her brother splashed around in the filthy river.

Also read: India’s bulging water crisis: Is it too late for us to do something?

“It makes us itchy and sick, but only for some time. We are happy to have this, everyone can use it.” (VOA)