On June 20, a 40-year-old journalist was allegedly burnt to death in Madhya Pradesh for refusing to withdraw a court complaint against an illegal sand-mining mafia. Sandeep Kothari was set ablaze allegedly by three people suspected to be closely linked to the sand mafia.
Just two weeks before this brutal murder, freelance journalist Jagendra Singh, was set afire – allegedly by local policemen in Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur, on June 1. Singh had accused a Samajwadi Party MLA of nefarious activities including illegal mining and forced occupation of land on his social media posts.
On June 13, Haider Khan, a local stringer was beaten and dragged behind a bike in Pilibhit district.
In fact 71 journalists from across 24 countries have been killed between January and June this year. A report by Geneva based Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) cites a 7 per cent surge in death rate from 2014. As per this report, Middle East and North Africa are the deadliest regions for media work.
Europe has been ranked third with 13 deaths. The report cites cases of eight deaths during the Charlie Hebdo magazine office attack in Paris, four in Ukraine and one in Poland.
In 2013, India was fourth most dangerous country for journalists, according to the London based International News Safety Institute (INSI). 35 journalists have been killed since 1992 till date across the country.
Here’s a highlight of the report:
Violence against against media professionals remain uninvestigated and unpunished. India has been ranked number 13 on Committee to Protect Journalists’ annual Impunity Index, which focuses on countries where journalists are killed.
Figures compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists suggest that majority of journalists have been killed because of their reporting. But,only less than 10 percent of crimes against journalists lead to arrest or punishment.
This impunity perpetuates the cycle of abuse against media professionals. And, it often leads to self-censorship and impacts press freedom.
The United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity was endorsed by the UN Chief Executives Board on 12 April 2012. But, the continued killing of journalists remains a disturbing reality. It’s high time states act to end impunity and create free and safe environment for journalists both in war and non-conflict zones.