India is fourth deadliest country for environmentalists

In 2016, 16 activists who work on land and environment issues were killed in India, as opposed to 6 murdered in 2015.
Published on Jul 16, 2017 02:44 PM IST
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In India 16 land and environmental activists died in 2016, making India the fourth deadliest country according to a to a new report Defenders of the Earth by an international NGO Global Witness. The year before there were only 6 murders recorded by the NGO of people working on land and environmental protection issues, leading the authors to term the condition in the country as ‘worsening.”

Prafulla Samantara, who won the Goldman Environmental Prize also known as the Green Nobel this year, was also assaulted and intimidated. “In India, they say we are Maoists and extreme leftists. But we are democratic, we are non-violent. […] I am branded as anti-development by the corporates, by the ruling class and by the police who say we are a threat to law and order,” Sumantara told the NGO.

The report documents the deaths of 200 activists across 24 countries last year.

In India, many of these activists are leading grassroots movement against projects proposed by big industries , the state or both and facing a harsh backlash. In 10 of the 16 cases recorded last year, police were believed to be the perpetrators.

He is helping lead the movement against Vedanta Resources mining project in the Nyamgiri hills that Dongria Kondh tribe considers sacred. Based on his petition the Supreme Court directed that the tribe be allowed to vote on the Vedanta mine.

The report also takes account of the government’s clampdown on NGOs in the country. In 2015, Greenpeace India was deregistered based on violations under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, which activists allege is being used by the government to target inconvenient NGOs. In 2016, a further 25 NGOs had their licenses revoked under the FCRA.


    Malavika Vyawahare tells science and environment stories using words, photos and multimedia. She studied environmental journalism at Columbia University and is based in Delhi.

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