Three Indian journalists -- Pawan Jain 'Vidrohi', Shobhana Singh and K Nagaraju -- who died in the line of duty were honoured by a journalists' body in Stockholm. They were among 153 journalists killed in various parts of the world before Nov 15 this year.
The Professional Foreign Correspondents Association of Sweden (PROFOCA) held the 2007 Journalists Stockholm Memorial at St Erik's Catholic Cathedral Thursday. Reverend Kristina Ljunggren, from the Swedish Lutheran Church, and Reverend Wojcieh Waligorski, from the Catholic Church, conducted the memorial.
The ceremony held for the fifth consecutive year was attended by ambassadors and representatives of most of the countries linked to the nationality of the deceased journalists, as well as representatives of Amnesty International, the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, the Federation of Swedish Journalists and the Press Division of the ministry for foreign affairs of Sweden.
Pawan Jain 'Vidrohi', chief editor of Vidrohi Dhara, an evening daily, was shot dead July 3, 2007, when assailants stopped his car and opened fire in Madhya Pradesh. Over two-dozen rounds were fired and some of the bullets hit both the journalist and the driver.
Vidhrohi was reportedly facing a vendetta from a construction firm, Vardhman Builders, whose bosses, Puneet Godha and Vineet Godha were infuriated because he had exposed irregularity in registry of residential land showing it as agriculture land in Vidisha.
The duo had caused loss to the government exchequer to the tune of Rs.9.6 million by saving stamp duty fees. Vidrohi blew the lid off the illegal transaction by publishing a detailed report about this in his newspaper on Jan 11, 2007.
Shobhana Singh, 27, a senior correspondent of Zee TV, was killed and two others were injured Aug 11, 2007, in a mudslide in Himachal Pradesh while driving to film a rare meteor shower.
K. Nagaraju, reporter of a Telegu daily, Andhra Prabha, was trampled to death by a herd of wild elephants that were on rampage in the forest areas of Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts of Andhra Pradesh.
Among the 38 countries that featured in the memorial service, Iraq predictably led the harrowing list with 54 victims.
While the bulk of the journalists died covering global wars and conflicts, others were victims of varied causes ranging from the drug industry and trafficking, vested commercial interests and natural catastrophes.
Since there was no official representation from India, the IANS correspondent prayed and honoured the Indian journalists who had died in the line of duty.
Jose Luis Belmar, the founder and General Secretary of PROFOCA, told IANS after the poignant ceremony: "I feel a great sorrow that the Embassy of India did not see fit to accept our invitation that was delivered nearly six weeks ago. India being the largest democracy as well as the largest secular state in the world brings immeasurable prestige to functions that support journalists doing their job in face of such danger, persecution and other repressive tribulations."
The other countries not represented were Myanmar and Zimbabwe.
But there were numerous messages of sympathy with the unfortunate journalists from various political leaders, international organisations and individuals around the world.