India stays at 142nd position in World Press Freedom index
India remained at the 142nd position among 180 countries in the World Press Freedom index published on Tuesday, with the report saying that the country was among nations where reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic was blocked or seriously impeded.
The report, published by the non-profit press freedom organisation Reporters without borders (RSF), classified India among the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists.
India was ranked in the “bad” category, along with Brazil, Mexico and Russia. In south Asia, Nepal was placed 106, Sri Lanka 127, Myanmar 140, Pakistan 145 and Bangladesh at the 152nd spot. China was ranked 177, and the US 44.
“With four journalists killed in connection with their work in 2020, India is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists trying to do their job properly. They are exposed to every kind of attack, including police violence against reporters, ambushes by political activists, and reprisals instigated by criminal groups or corrupt local officials,” said the report.
Norway topped the index for the fifth year in a row.
The report labelled 132 countries as “very bad”, “bad” or “problematic”. It stated that the pandemic was used as means to deny journalists this access and promote government sponsored propaganda regarding the Covid-19 outbreak. “Data shows that journalists are finding it increasingly hard to investigate and report sensitive stories, especially in Asia, the Middle East and Europe,” the report stated.
India drew flak for “extremely violent social media hate campaigns” against journalists who “dare to criticise” the government. “The coordinated hate campaigns waged on social networks against journalists who dare to speak or write about subjects that annoy Hindutva followers are terrifying and include calls for the journalists concerned to be murdered. The campaigns are particularly violent when the targets are women,” said the report.
The report on the Asia-Pacific region said journalists who criticised the government were branded as “anti-state,” “anti-national” or even “pro-terrorist” by supporters of the ruling BJP”.
HT reached out to the ministry of information and broadcasting for a response but did not receive one immediately.