Journo-murder index improves

Indian sub-continent witnesses 12 casualties this year, while 49 journalists are murdered around the world, reports Nava Thakuria

As the year 2019 is approaching the end, Indian sub-continent sets to improve its journo-murder index with 12 casualties this year. International media rights body reveals that 49 journalists have been murdered for their journalistic works around the world, which is also lower than last year (95 casualties). India’s share has gone down from six (in 2018) to two journo-killings (2019) till date, whereas Bangladesh, Tibet (under China), Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bhutan have not reported any incident of scribe-murders this year.

Pakistan and Afghanistan top the list of scribe’s murders as both the countries lost five journalists each to assailants. India reported killings of two journalists for journalistic causes. As usual Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka along with Myanmar, Maldives and Bangladesh have not reported any incident of journo-murder till the middle of December ’19.

Pakistan reported the murders of Zafar Abbas, Mirza Waseem Baig, Muhammad Bilal Khan, Ali Sher Rajpar and Malik Amanullah Khan in 2019 for journalistic activities. Similarly, Afghanistan lost  Jabid Noori, Nader Shah Sahebzadeh, Sultan Mohammad Khairkhah, Shafiq Aria and Rahimullah Rahmani to assailants in the year.

India as a whole lost six scribes in 2019, but only two murders are understood as being related to journalism related activities. Andhra Pradesh-based journalist K Satyanarayana and Madhya Pradesh-based journalist  Chakresh Jain faced the fate because of their works as journalists. However, four other cases are yet to be confirmed that they were targeted for media activities.

Young reporter Satyanarayana, who worked for Telugu daily ‘Andhra Jyothy’, was hacked to death by miscreants at Annavaram village of East Godavari district on the night of 15 October. Local scribes reported that Satyanarayana was targeted in an earlier occasion too and he informed it to the local police. Jain, a freelance journalist died of severe burning on 19 June as he was put to burn by assailants in Shahgarh locality.

Others who were killed this year include Radheyshyam Sharma from Uttar Pradesh, K Muhammed Basheer from Kerala, Anand Narayan and Nityanand Pandey from Maharashtra. Sharma was allegedly murdered on 10 October by his neighbours. Basheer lost his life as a running vehicle, driven by a senior government officer, mowed down him on 3 August. A news channel contributor (Narayan) was murdered on 4 June by miscreants and a magazine editor Pandey was killed in another incident.

India lost six journalists (Navin Nischal, Vijay Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Syed Shujaat Bukhari, Achyuta N Sahu and Chandan Tiwari) to assailants in 2018, whereas the trouble-torn northeastern region of the country has once again evaded murder of any journalist in two years. Often described as a disturbed zone because of relentless violence engineered by armed militants, the region (except Tripura) has avoided any incident of journalist’s murder for many years.

Tripura reported the murder of altogether five media persons in 2013 and 2017, whereas Assam and Manipur witnessed the last killing of media persons in 2012. Till the recent time, the region was a breeding ground for insurgents fighting against New Delhi with demands for self-rule to sovereignty. Manipur and Assam were once severely affected by the militancy, where over 30 separatist armed outfits went on with disruptive activities including extortion, kidnapping, and killings.

For Indian working journalists, the year 2017 is recognized as a deadliest year as 12 scribes (Hari Prakash, Brajesh Kumar Singh, Shyam Sharma, Kamlesh Jain, Surender Singh Rana, Gauri Lankesh, Shantanu Bhowmik, KJ Singh, Rajesh Mishra, Sudip Datta Bhaumik, Naveen Gupta and Rajesh Sheoran) were either murdered or killed in suspicious situations.

In 2016, India witnessed the targeted killings of six scribes, where as the previous year the country lost five journalists to assailants. A satisfactory statistics on journo-murder index was observed in 2014, when the country reported only two incidents of journo-murders.  But year 2013 emerged a dangerous year for scribes with 11 casualties including three media employees from Tripura.