Muqbil Ahmar

Muqbil Ahmar writes on culture and poetry. He is a writer and theater activist, who wants to bring about harmony and amicability in the present day society. Music, poetry and good food are his passions.

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India Is A Dangerous Place For Journalists, Says Reporters Sans Frontières Report

According to the report, Norway is the most press tolerating country while North Korea has the dubious distinction of being the worst for journalists.

India ranked 136th on World Press Freedom Index, 3 points lower than last year’s. The country India has, in fact, gone down from the previous year’s 133rd position. These are hard realities facing India as far as human rights are concerned. A 45-year-old journalist, Aparna Kalra, was attacked during her evening walk in Delhi. The bloody attack caused serious head injuries. Kalra was bleeding profusely and had to be hospitalized. Another journalist working with the Daily News & Analysis (DNA) newspaper was the victim of an attack in Navi Mumbai recently.

The ranking is released by Reporters Without Borders or the Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), an international non-profit, non-governmental organization that promotes as well as defends freedom of the press. Headquartered in Paris, the organization is backed by the United Nations (UN).

According to the report, Norway is the most press tolerating country while North Korea has the dubious distinction of being the worst for journalists. The list contains 180 nations and ranks them according to the level of freedom available to journalists in that country. Additionally, the organization publishes “Predators of Press Freedom,” a list of politicians, government officials, militias, religious leaders, and criminal organizations, who target journalists.

Is journalism and press freedom under siege in India?
“…nationalists trying to purge all manifestations of ‘anti-national’ thought from the national debate, self-censorship is growing in the mainstream media. Journalists are increasingly the targets of online smear campaigns by the most radical nationalists, who vilify them and even threaten physical reprisals,” says the report.

The report further goes on to say: “Coverage of regions that the authorities regard as sensitive… continues to be very difficult, and there are no protective mechanisms … the Internet was cut by the military and was often interrupted thereafter to prevent communication between protesters and prevent coverage by the media and citizen journalists. Journalists working for local media outlets are often the targets of violence by soldiers acting with the central government’s tacit consent.”

On the other hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated his support for freedom of media and press. He says freedom is vital for a democracy. PM Modi tweeted: “World Press Freedom Day is a day to reiterate our unwavering support towards a free & vibrant press, which is vital in a democracy.”

However, it remains to be seen whether actions match words.

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