Ground Report | New Delhi: 256 attacks on journalists in India; The Polis Project, a New York-based non-governmental organization investigating public issues, has published an investigative report on attacks on journalists in India. The report highlights journalists in India are facing various forms of violence, from arrest to murder in false cases, which has made journalism a dangerous profession in the country.
According to the report, Journalists are regularly bullied, bullied, arrested, booked, and silenced by the state through false orders and fabricated charges. Those who speak against the present government may be booked for sedition or under stringent laws like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (which unilaterally designates individuals as terrorists without the need to provide evidence), the National Security Act. There is a danger of being arrested under and the Public Safety Act (PSA).
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256 attacks on journalists in India
The polis project in its investigation has covered the incidents from May 2019 to August this year. It combines attacks on journalists during coverage of various events. 51 incidents of violence against journalists took place in Jammu and Kashmir, 26 during protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, 19 during the riots in Delhi in February 2020, and 46 during the coverage of Code cases.
There have been 10 incidents of violence against journalists so far during the farmers’ movement against controversial agricultural laws. While 104 incidents occurred while covering other topics across the country.
Suchitra Vijayan, who is associated with the police project, says the government in India is using various methods to prevent journalists from fulfilling their professional responsibilities.
Many journalists are currently in jail. Kerala journalist Siddique Kapoor was arrested in October last year while he was on his way to report on a woman who was gang-raped and murdered in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP’s Yogi Adityanath government has imposed serious provisions on Siddique Kappan for inciting hatred between different sects, hurting religious sentiments, conspiracy, and treason. Recently, his 90-year-old mother passed away but the Yogi government did not even allow him to visit his ailing mother.
Suchitra Vijayan says, “The present government is silencing journalists in India by threatening them, arresting them or registering fake cases or imposing various sanctions. “Journalists who speak out against the government are accused of treason and face constant arrest.”
On 24 May 2021, 18 people were injured including 5 journalists- Aijaz Ahmed Dar (Zee News), Irshad Ahmed (News 18), Shahid Tak (ETV Bharat), Nazir Wani (Punjab Kesari) and Firdous Ahmed (News Nation). . police. The journalists were watching the forest eviction drive in Shopian district of Kashmir and the local Gujjar community was opposing the campaign.
On 31 August 2019, Gauhar Geelani was stopped by the authorities at the Delhi airport and barred from going abroad as a look-out notice was issued against her by the Intelligence Bureau.
Freelance photojournalists Muzmil Mattoo, Idris Abbas and Adil Abbas were physically assaulted while covering a religious gathering in the old city of Srinagar. The police abused Masrat Zahra.
On 1 September 2019, Peerzada Ashiq was called to a police station and pressured to reveal the sources of a story she had done while under detention in Jammu and Kashmir.
Bad record of press freedom
The report states that the Prevention of Illegal Activities Act (UAPA), the National Security Act (NSA), and the Public Security Act (PSA) are against journalists who criticize government policies and practices. A) As cases are filed under strict rules. Due to which sometimes they do not even get bail for months without any legal action.
Suchitra Vijayan of the Police Project says, “Journalists who ask the government why there is a campaign to spread hatred on social media. Many times they are also threatened with death and rape. Rising media restrictions in India pose a major threat to press freedom. “
Reporters Without Borders, an international organization of journalists, in a report, ranked India as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalism.
The report said “Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party was re-elected in 2019, there has been increasing pressure on the media to follow the line of a Hindu nationalist government. Coordinated hate campaigns on social media against journalists who question the government or uncover the truth behind the government’s actions highlight calls for murder. Campaigns are particularly violent when the targets are women”.
With some prosecutors invoking Section 124A of the Penal Code, criminal charges are often used to suppress journalists criticizing the authorities, under which “treason” is punishable by life imprisonment. Journalists reporting on important and sensitive issues were attacked, assaulted, and in some cases killed for their work. It is important to understand the different everyday incidents where journalists are the target of violence. These cases may go unreported, but the threat of violence is always there.