Danger Zone: 5 Indian Journos Who Were Killed for Doing Their Job

The latest casualty was freelance journalist Rajesh Sheoran, who was murdered in Haryana.

Updated
World
4 min read
<p>(Left to right) Journalists Gauri Lankesh, Sudip Datta and Santanu Bhowmik.</p>
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Journalism is a trying, tiring, and often thankless profession. Journalists in India, and across the world, often face extreme danger from the powers that be for speaking the truth.

At least five journalists have been killed in India this year – making it one of the most dangerous country in Asia to practice this profession.

<p>India is tied at first place with The Philippines, with five journalists killed in 2017.</p>

India is tied at first place with The Philippines, with five journalists killed in 2017.

(Photo: The Quint/Harsh Sahani)

The latest casualty in the profession is freelance journalist Rajesh Sheoran, who was murdered on Thursday, 21 December, in Charkhi Dadri, Haryana.

Sheoran’s death came days after Journalists Without Borders released their annual report on crimes against journalists, stating that 65 journalists had been killed worldwide in 2017. With Sheoran’s name added to the list, the list now stands at 66.

When the list was released on 18 December, The Philippines bagged the dubious honour of being the most dangerous country for journalists in Asia (with five journalists murdered in 2017).

The addition of Sheoran’s list ties India at first place with The Philippines.

However, more journalists died in Syria – with 12 killed in 2017 – but these were a result of conflict, and were not murdered. The journalists were killed in air strikes, sniper fire, or other deadly situations arising from a conflict situation. Syria also has the dubious distinction of being the most dangerous country in the world to practise the profession.

The second-most dangerous country for journalists (most dangerous if you rule out warlike situations), according to the Journalists Without Borders report, is Mexico, where 11 journalists were assassinated in 2017.

Here’s what you need to know about the journalists killed in India.

Gauri Lankesh

<p>Gauri Lankesh was gunned down outside her Bengaluru home.</p>

Gauri Lankesh was gunned down outside her Bengaluru home.

(Photo Courtesy: Facebook)

Gauri Lankesh, editor of the Kannada weekly Lankesh Patrike, was gunned down outside her home in Bengaluru by three assailants. Three bullets pierced through her head, neck, and chest. She was considered a fearless editor and a staunch critic of the Hindu right-wing in the country.

Her death was marked by widespread protests and outrage from the media. The Karnataka government announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh for information leading to her killers. Four months on, there have been no arrests.

Santanu Bhowmik

<p>Bhowmik was stabbed to death when he was covering an agitation in Tripura.</p>

Bhowmik was stabbed to death when he was covering an agitation in Tripura.

(Photo Courtesy: Facebook)

Barely three weeks after Lankesh was shot dead, journalist Santanu Bhowmik was abducted and stabbed to death in Mandai, Tripura.

Bhowmik, a reporter who worked for local news channel Din Raat, had been covering the agitation by the indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) demanding a separate state. The police alleged that he was attacked by the supporters of the IPFT.

Policemen recovered Bhowmik in a critical state after the attack. He was pronounced dead upon arriving at Agartala’s GBP Hospital.

Sudip Datta Bhaumik

<p>Datta was shot dead after an altercation with a Tripura State Rifles Trooper.</p>

Datta was shot dead after an altercation with a Tripura State Rifles Trooper.

(Photo Courtesy: Facebook)

Just 35 kilometres from where Santanu was killed, Sudip Datta Bhaumik was shot dead by a trooper of the Tripura State Rifles in Bodhjung Nagar, Tripura.

The senior journalist worked with local newspaper Syandan Patrika. He was shot dead at a security facility manned by the Tripura State Rifles.

Sudip was reportedly shot at point-blank range, after an altercation broke out between the trooper and the journalist. The editor for the Syandan Patrika alleged that Sudip was killed for exposing financial irregularities in the paramilitary force, The Hindu reported.

Naveen Gupta

<p>Gupta, 35, is survived by his wife and four-year-old daughter.</p>

Gupta, 35, is survived by his wife and four-year-old daughter.

(Photo: ANI)

Naveen Gupta, a journalist with Hindi daily Hindustan, was shot dead in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur, by unidentified bike-borne assailants on 30 November. Gupta had reportedly stepped out of his brother’s garments shop in Kanpur, when he was shot. Five bullets pierced his face and chest.

The reason for his murder is still unknown.

Rajesh Sheoran

The most recent incident involves journalist Rajesh Sheoran, whose mutilated body was discovered in Haryana’s Charki Dadri, on Thursday, 21 December. The Indian Express reported that his body was discovered with his legs separated from his torso, with police adding that it appeared that he had been repeatedly run over by a vehicle.

Silver Lining?

The report by Journalists Without Borders said 2017 witnessed the lowest number of journalist deaths, adding that this could be attributed to a number of journalists leaving the profession, or the countries they live in.

(With inputs from Reporters Sans Frontieres and The Hindu)

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