Violence stalks journalists across India as perpetrators roam free
Journalists across the country are increasingly facing threats and intimidation. As per available data, shared in the Lok Sabha by Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, Minister of State (Home Affairs), in March, a total of 114 cases were registered under attack on media person (grievously hurt) during 2014. Some 32 persons were arrested. However, the cases hardly reached any logical conclusion.
These attacks may range from intimidation by state or mafia, harassment with the use of legal provisions or online abuses or as in some case, at the behest of a powerful politician or businessman. Hindustan Times brings reports from different states where journalists have borne the brunt for doing their job.
Thirteen, they say, is an unlucky number. It was for Rajdeo Ranjan, 42, a journalist with the Hindi daily Hindustan, who was shot dead at point blank by criminals at a busy market place in Siwan on Friday, May 13.
Ranjan had written extensively on the Shrikant Bharti case — an aide of BJP MP Omprakash Yadav – who was shot dead in 2014. Fingers were pointed towards incarcerated Shahabuddin. In jail since 2005, the two-time MLA and four time MP from Siwan, Shahabuddin fought on Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal tickets until he was barred from contesting elections.
Ranjan was also believed to have created a video clip, which showed Abdul Gafoor, a minister in the Nitish Kumar cabinet, meeting Shahabuddin, causing much embarrassment to the government, and also allegedly upsetting the don. The expose had led to the jail superintendent’s suspension and a sharp curtailment in conveniences available till then to the ex-MP in jail.
Read: Chasing stories to death
Journalists took to the streets in protest. Some even swapped their WhatsApp profile picture with the message, “Stop killing journalists.”
“The Siwan killing has once again brought a sense of fear among journalists working in Bihar. It has emboldened the anti-socials, politicians and others, who are now not missing an opportunity to demoralise the people from the media,” said a senior journalist.
Soon after Rajdeo’s murder, three more journalists and non-journalists associated with different media houses were at the receiving end of anti-social elements and politicians.
A journalist was abused and threatened with dire consequences by four unidentified men in Nalanda on May 19. The incident took place in the office of a leading vernacular daily at Biharsharif town. In other incidents, two photo journalists were attacked around the state capital while covering panchayat elections. A production employee of an English daily was beaten up and driven around in an SUV the whole night before being dumped on the road.