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4 journalists ‘murdered’ in India for their work in 2021, most in world, says media watchdog

It’s been a ‘bleak year’ for press freedom worldwide, record 293 journalists jailed, 24 killed, says survey report by US-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

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New Delhi: India has the highest number of journalists who were killed in “retaliation” for their work this year, a report published by the US non-profit watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Thursday.

Four journalists had been murdered in India for their work as of 1 December 2021, while a fifth died on a “dangerous assignment”, the CPJ has said in its annual survey on press freedom and attacks on the media. Seven Indian mediapersons were behind bars as a result of their reporting as of 1 December 2021, it added.

According to the report, at least 24 journalists were killed worldwide in the line of duty, 19 of them “murdered”. The remaining five died in crossfires — including India’s Danish Siddiqui in Afghanistan — or while on “dangerous assignments”.

Another 18 died in suspicious circumstances although it could not be ascertained if they were specific targets, it said.

The total number of journalists in prison has also reportedly reached a “record high”, with 293 in jail as of 1 December 2021.

“It’s been an especially bleak year for defenders of press freedom. CPJ’s 2021 prison census found that the number of reporters jailed for their work hit a new global record of 293, up from a revised total of 280 in 2020,” the report said.

Also Read: French media watchdog lists Modi as ‘predator of press freedom’, govt rubbishes it as ‘baseless’

‘China worst jailer’ for 3rd year in a row

This is the sixth year in a row that the CPJ’s survey has recorded 250 or more journalists behind bars for their work, which the report says reflects “a growing intolerance of independent reporting”. 

For the third consecutive year, China has earned the dubious distinction of being the “world’s worst jailer of journalists”, with a total of 50 journalists in prison as of the first of this month.

For the first time, the survey counted detained Hong Kong journalists in its tally for China due to the imposition of the draconian 2020 National Security Law.

“Myanmar soared to the second slot after the media crackdown that followed its February 1 military coup. Egypt, Vietnam, and Belarus, respectively, rounded out the top five,” the report said.

The US non-profit noted that some countries, like Turkey and Saudi Arabia, have exited their place in the top five of worst jailers, but warned that it would be “naïve” to assume that this is because they’ve had a change of heart.

According to the report, severe crackdowns and detentions in recent years have “silenced journalists” in both countries.

The report pointed out that authoritarian leaders are increasingly using tactics like internet shutdowns and increased surveillance to “block independent reporters and outlets”.

Journalists killed and jailed in India

The four Indian journalists who have been “confirmed” to have been killed for their work are Avinash Jha (BNN News) in November, Chennakesavalu (EV5) and Manish Singh (Sudarshan TV) in August, and Sulabh Srivastava (ABP News) in June.

One journalist, Raman Kashyap of Sadhna TV Plus, died on a “dangerous assignment”, namely the Lakhimpur Kheri violence in October.

The seven imprisoned journalists include two from Kashmir — Aasif Sultan of the Kashmir Narrator (since 2018) and photojournalist Manan Dar (since October 2021).

Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha have been in jail since April 2020 in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. Rajeev Sharma was arrested for alleged money laundering in July 2021, soon after he was released from jail for suspected espionage.

Siddique Kappan was accused of trying to foment trouble when he was on his way to cover the Hathras gang rape in October 2020. Tanveer Warsi was arrested in Bhopal for allegedly running a paper illegally, among other charges.

(Edited by Asavari Singh)

Also Read: Our press is free, just look at criticism on economy, Rafale — India tells media watchdog


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