India was among the three most dangerous countries for journalists in 2015, with nine reporters losing their lives during the year, according to the annual report of Reporters Without Borders released on Tuesday.
The media watchdog said these deaths confirmed “India’s position as Asia’s deadliest country for media personnel, ahead of both Pakistan and Afghanistan”.
Only war-torn Iraq and Syria recorded the deaths of more journalists than India. Four of the nine Indian journalists murdered in the past year were killed “for still undetermined reasons”, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said.
Besides India, the eight other countries where the most journalists were killed are Iraq (11), Syria (10), France (eight), Yemen (eight), Mexico (eight), South Sudan (seven), the Philippines (seven) and Honduras (seven).
A total of 110 journalists were killed in connection with their work or for unclear reasons in 2015, and at least 67 were killed while reporting or because of their work.
“These 67 deaths bring to 787 the total number of journalists killed in connection with their work since 2005,” RSF said in its report.
Indian journalists “daring to cover organised crime and its links with politicians have been exposed to a surge in violence, especially violence of criminal origin, since the start of 2015”, the report said.
Two murders monitored by RSF were linked to illegal mining, a sensitive environmental subject in India. “The inadequacy of the Indian authorities’ response is reinforcing the climate of impunity for violence against journalists,” RSF said.
“After the murder of Sandeep Kothari (the eighth journalist to be killed for work-related reasons in two years), RSF urged the government to establish a national plan for protecting journalists. A response that matches the scale of the threats to journalists is now essential,” it added.
Kothari, a 40-year-old tehsil correspondent for several Jabalpur-based Hindi dailies, belonged to Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh. He had filed a case against some people to expose the region’s sand mining mafia. His charred body was found at a Nagpur farmhouse on June 21.
While 67 journalists were targeted worldwide because of their work or killed while reporting, RSF said it had not been possible to clearly establish the circumstances or motives of 43 other deaths. Twenty-seven citizen-journalists and seven media workers were also killed in 2015.
“The Charlie Hebdo attack made France the third deadliest country for journalists in 2015...A western country had never suffered a massacre of this kind in the past,” the report said.
RSF condemned the worldwide failure to protect journalists and called for a “response to match the emergency”.