At least 6 journalists were killed, 108 journalists were attacked and 13 media houses were targeted in 2021, according to the India Press Freedom Report 2021 by the Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG).
Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Tripura topped the list of States and Union Territories where journalists and media houses were targeted in the last year.
Of the six journalists killed, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar reported two deaths each while Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra reported death of one journalist each.
Eight female journalists faced arrest, summon, and registration of First Information Reports (FIRs).
” The highest number of journalists/media organisations targeted was in Jammu and Kashmir (25), followed by Uttar Pradesh (23); Madhya Pradesh (16); Tripura (15); Delhi (8); Bihar (6); Assam (5); Haryana and Maharashtra (4 each); Goa and Manipur (3 each); Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal (2 each); and Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Kerala (1 each),” read the report.
“The widespread attacks on the press freedom from Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to Tripura are an indicator of the continuing deterioration of civic space in the country,” stated Suhas Chakma, Director of the RRAG.
In 2021, at least 24 journalists were physically attacked, threatened, harassed, and obstructed from doing their professional works by public officials including police across the country, according to the report. Out of the 24 journalists, 17 were beaten by police. Physical attacks on journalists by police were mainly reported from Jammu and Kashmir.
During the last year, FIRs against 44 journalists were registered including in some cases multiple FIRs against the same journalists in several states.
Uttar Pradesh reported the highest registration of FIRs with nine; followed by six each in Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir, and three in Bihar; among others.
Out of the 44 journalists, FIRs were filed against 21 journalists under Section 153 of the IPC relating to promoting enmity.
Last year, the Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax Department raided offices of media houses/newspapers and houses of journalists who were critical of policies and functioning of the government. The media houses and their officials raided included Newsclick in February, Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar in July, and Newslaundry in September.
“The spotlight on the denial of media freedom continued to be on Jammu and Kashmir where journalists often found themselves summoned to police stations, accused in FIRs registered, their houses being raided, being manhandled and/or being beaten by the security force,” read the report.