India: Political Reporter Beaten to Death

Freedom of Press

In April, the press freedom group ranked India 136th of 180 countries in its world press freedom ratings, blaming “Hindu nationalists trying to purge all manifestations of ‘anti-national’ thought from the national debate.”  In 2015 India was ranked the deadliest country in Asia for journalists, although most deaths occur in remote rural areas away from the major urban centers.

A senior Indian journalist and activist has been shot dead outside her home in Bangalore, India on 5 September. The 55-year-old was shot dead by three unknown gunmen as she entered her home in the southern city of Bangalore in Karnataka state. No one has yet been identified or arrested in connection with the killing. Lankesh was known as a fierce critic of Hindu nationalist organizations in her state and was convicted of defamation last year for a piece accusing members of the Bharatiya Janata party of theft. She was appealing against the decision. The Press Club of India said in a statement about this murder: “A fearless and independent journalist who gave voice to many causes and always stood up for justice has been shot dead in the most brutal manner in order to silence her voice.”

Two weeks later, Bhowmick was beaten to death during violent clashes, officials have said. Shantanu Bhowmick, a reporter covering political unrest in India’s north-east, was set upon with sticks as he reported about violence on Wednesday between warring political factions and police outside Agartala, the capital of remote Tripura state. No arrests have yet been made in connection with the reporter’s death, but four people were detained on separate charges related to the political violence, the state police superintendent Abhijit Saptarshi said. Bhowmick’s death brings the number of reporters killed in India since the early 1990s to 29, according to figures from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

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At least 780 journalists and media workers have been killed in connection with their work in the past ten years, despite strong resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council, General Assembly, and Human Rights Council. That’s why French President Macron said after defending press freedom in his first address to the United Nations General Assembly. “I call for the appointment of a special representative of the United Nations secretary-general for the protection of journalists throughout the world, because the fight against terrorism and the harsher world we are living in should under no circumstances justify any reduction in this freedom.”

Photo Credits: Slideshare

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