ISSN 2330-717X

India’s Improving Journalist-Murder Index – OpEd


As we witness two months pass in the year 2020, India is yet to report any murder of scribes across the huge (also populous) country. Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) indicates that eight journalists have been killed till date this year on the line of their duties. Highest number of casualties are reported from Iraq (3) followed by Syria (2), Somalia (1), Nigeria (1) and Paraguay (1).

India witnessed only one casualty last year improving in its journo-murder index where 49 scribes lost their lives on the duty hours around the world. Except  Pakistan and Bangladesh, India’s other neighbours namely Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Tibet (under China), and Bhutan evaded any incident of scribe’s murder in 2019.

According to International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Mexico tops the list with 10 incidents of journalist’s killings, followed by Afghanistan ( 5), Syria (5), Pakistan (4), Somalia (3), Yemen (2), Philippines (2), Brazil (2), Haiti (2), Honduras ( 2), Iraq (1), Haiti (1), Nigeria (1),  Northern Ireland (1), the Philippines (1) etc.

Pakistan reported the murders of Aman Ullah Gharro, Ali Sher Rajper, Mirza Waseem Baig and  Zafar Abbas, where Afghanistan lost  Javid Noori, Shafiq Arya, Rahimullah Rahmani, Sultan Mohammad Kairkhah and Nader Shah Shebzadeh  to besieged assailants.   

Bangladesh witnessed the suspected murder of online journalist  Ihsan Ibn Reza Fagun in 2019.

India as a whole witnessed the incidents of nine journo-killings in 2019, but only one incident emerged as a case of targeted murder. Andhra Pradesh based journalist K Satyanarayana (45) faced the fate because of his performances as a working journalist. The committed reporter of Telugu newspaper Andhra Jyothy was hacked to death by miscreants at Annavaram village of East Godavari district on the night of 15 October.

Local scribes informed that Satyanarayana was targeted in an earlier occasion too.

Others who were killed this year include Jobanpreet Singh (Punjab’s online journalist was killed in police firings on 19 December), Vijay Gupta (Kanpur-based scribe shot dead by  close relatives on 29 October), Radheyshyam Sharma (Kushinagar-based journalist murdered by his neighbours on 10 October), Ashish Dhiman (Saharanpur-based photojournalist  shot dead along with his brother by neighbours on 18 August),  Chakresh Jain (Shahgarh-based freelance journalist died of serious burn injuries on 19 June), Anand Narayan (news channel contributor of Mumbai murdered by miscreants on  4 June), Nityanand Pandey (magazine editor in Thane killed by an employee on 17 March).

Kerala-based journalist K Muhammed Basheer lost his life on 3 August as a government officer driven vehicle mowed down him. Bihar’s scribe Pradeep Mandal was targeted by miscreants on 28 July, but he survived luckily. He contributed a number of news items against the local liquor mafia for Dainik Jagaran and invited enmities from the goons.

Guwahati-based scribe named Naresh Mitra died on 9 December after sustaining head injuries in a mysterious accident inside the city. Otherwise, the trouble-torn northeastern region has once again evaded murder of any journalist in two consecutive years. Tripura reported the murder of five media persons in 2013 and 2017, whereas Assam and Manipur witnessed the last killing of media persons (Dwijamani Nanao Singh from Imphal and Raihanul Nayum from Dhubri) in 2012.

Till the recent time, the region was a breeding ground for insurgents fighting against New Delhi with demands for self-rule to sovereignty. Both the States were once severely affected by the militancy, where over 30 separatist armed outfits went on with disruptive activities including extortion, kidnapping, and killings.

The year 2017 was recognized as a deadliest year for working journalists in Bharat, as 12 scribes (Hari Prakash, Brajesh Kumar Singh, Shyam Sharma, Kamlesh Jain, Surender Singh Rana, Gauri Lankesh, Shantanu Bhowmik, KJ Singh, Rajesh Mishra, Sudip Datta Bhaumik, Naveen Gupta and Rajesh Sheoran) were either murdered or killed in suspicious situations. Among the casualties, Tripura reported two incidents of journo-murder (Shantanu and Sudip Datta) that year.

Earlier  2013 emerged a dangerous year for scribes with 11 casualties including three media employees (Sujit Bhattacharya, Ranjit Chowdhury and Balaram Ghosh) from Tripura. Various national and international media rights bodies like RSF, IFJ, New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), etc came out with separate  reports on journo-murders in 2019 and rightly continue raising voices for due probes and punishments to the culprits.

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Nava Thakuria

Nava Thakuria is a Guwahati (Assam, Northeast India) based journalist

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