Press freedom down in India, 3 journalists killed in 2018: Report

New Delhi (IANS): Press freedom in India has deteriorated in 2018 and three
journalists have been killed in the first four months, media watchdog The
Hoot said, stating that “journalists continue to be vulnerable”.

The number of killings documented by the Hoot report for the first four
months was the same as in the whole of 2017.

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“They were killed in connection with their reporting, judging by what
initial investigations show,” it said.

India ranks 138th among 180 countries on this year’s World Press Freedom
Index, published by Reporters Without Borders. India’s rank was 136th in
2017 and 133rd in 2016.

The number of documented attacks on journalists and media workers across
the country during the period was 13. It includes three in West Bengal. In
2017, documented attacks stood at 46.

Apart from these, there were defamation cases that came to trial. A
sedition case was filed against a journalist. There was also a clear push
by both the State, Centre and the judiciary — through regulatory policy as
well as judicial orders — to curb free speech, The Hoot said.

“Media freedom continued to deteriorate in the first four months of 2018 in
India,” said the non-profit watchdog.

“There were also around 50 instances of censorship and more than 20
instances of suspension of Internet services as well as the taking down of
online content,” it added.

All three journalists killed in the January-April period were mowed down by

On March 26, two Dainik Bhaskar journalists — Navin Nishchal and Vijay
Singh — were killed when their bike was hit by an SUV in Bhojpur in Bihar.

Police said the vehicle was driven by a village leader and that a heated
argument between him and the reporters over a news report had preceded the

A day later, television reporter Sandeep Sharma was mowed down by a truck
in Bhind, Madhya Pradesh. Sharma, who had done a sting operation on a sand
mining mafia in Bhind, had told police that he had received threats to his
life, it said.

Hoot’s investigation revealed that politicians, businessmen, members of
Hindu right wing groups, police and paramilitary forces, government
agencies like the film certification board, the Information and
Broadcasting Ministry, state governments, lawyers and even media groups had
acted to undermine freedom of expression.

India’s record on press freedom has remained poor and has been
deteriorating over the last couple of years.

The Hoot report, however, said: “Despite the ominous number and range of
attacks on freedom of expression, the ongoing struggle to resist these
curbs does yield results.”

In April, an injunction on the publication of a book on yoga guru and
businessman Baba Ramdev was lifted by a district court in Delhi.