A study on attacks on journalists in India has recorded nearly 200 such “serious instances” and 40 killings since 2014. Of these 40 deaths, 21 were directly linked to their professional work, the study showed. Only three convictions have taken place in journalists’ murder cases since 2010, it said.
The attacks were allegedly committed by government agencies, security forces, members of political parties, religious sects, student groups, criminal gangs and local mafias, the report said. The three convictions took place in the cases of journalists Jyotirmoy Dey, Rajesh Mishra and Tarun Acharya. In all other cases, FIRs were filed or trials have begun but “we are nowhere near justice”, the study said.
The research was published amidst protests against amendments to the Citizenship Act, during which more such attacks took place. The study said that during these protests, journalists in at least four states were reported as “detained, assaulted, their camera equipment snatched and even banished into a neighbouring state”. At least 36 of the 198 “serious” attacks on journalists since 2014 took place this year itself, including the ones during protests against the Citizenship Act.
The report’s findings included instances of journalists being “fired upon, blinded by pellet guns, forced to drink liquor laced with urine or urinated upon, kicked, beaten and chased”. “They have had petrol bombs thrown at their homes and the fuel pipes of their bikes cut,” the report said. “Journalists covering conflict or news events were specifically targeted by irate mobs, supporters of religious sects, political parties, student groups, lawyers, police and security forces.”
Attacks on women journalists were found to have increased too, with “sustained and vicious” targeted attacks on those covering the entry of women in the Sabarimala temple of Kerala, the report said. The study documented 19 attacks on women journalists in the period.
The study was commissioned by the Thakur Family Foundation.
On inquiries into the attacks, the study said: “Thorough investigation, a speedy trial and conviction should be the norm, not the exception. But, in several cases, investigation is slow, uneven and inconsistent.”