India is one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to prosecuting killers of journalists, according to “Killers of journalists still get away with murder” a report released by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The Global Impunity Index 2021 lists 12 countries where members of the press are singled out for murder and the killers go free. Since the index was first prepared in 2018, India has invariably been on the list and is ranked 12th – similar to its rank in the previous year.
November 2 marks the the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.’
Now in the top 12, India along with 11 other countries “account for 81% of the global total of unsolved murders of journalists” in the past decade, the report states.
With 20 unsolved murders, finds itself in the list where the top five spots are occupied by Somalia, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, and Afghanistan.
Since 1992, at least 35 Indian journalists have been murdered for their work.
Cases without convictions in India include Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead by Hindutva assailants in Karnataka in 2017, and Shujaat Bhukhari, who was shot dead in Kashmir in 2016.
The list of unsolved murders of journalists in India in the Global Impunity Index 2021 added three new names this year.
The three names are of a journalist with a local news channel EV-5 in Andhra Pradesh, Chennakesavulu who was stabbed to death for exposing a constable’s illegal activities, ABP News, and ABP Ganga journalist Sulabh Srivastava, who was also killed for his work a day after he complained about receiving threats, and of Sudarshan TV reporter Manish Kumar Singh.
Globally in 2020, at least 22 journalists were singled out for murder in retaliation for their work, more than double the total for 2019, according to CPJ.
Murder is also not the only way media suppression happens. India ranks 142 (out of 180 countries) on the World Press Freedom Index — among the worst countries where “there have been constant press freedom violations, including police violence against journalists, ambushes by political activists, and reprisals instigated by criminal groups or corrupt local officials,” according to the 2021 Reporters Without Borders report.
“Ever since the general elections in the spring of 2019, won overwhelmingly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, pressure has increased on the media to toe the Hindu nationalist government’s line. Indians who espouse Hindutva, the ideology that gave rise to radical right-wing Hindu nationalism, are trying to purge all manifestations of “anti-national” thought from the public debate. The coordinated hate campaigns waged on social networks against journalists who dare to speak or write about subjects that annoy Hindutva followers are terrifying and include calls for the journalists concerned to be murdered,” a document by RSF states.