Home » Farwell 2020, an awful year to Indian scribes

Farwell 2020, an awful year to Indian scribes

by Rinku Khumukcham
0 comment 6 minutes read

By- Nava Thakuria

Devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic since March, the robust Indian media fraternity sets to bid farewell 2020 with largest of
journo-murders in the world. As the populous country lost over 50 working journalists to novel corona virus infection aggravated
ailments, the largest democracy in the globe also witnessed killings of 15 scribes till the last week of December.
India along with Mexico emerge as the most dangerous countries for working journalists this year, where the global tally of media victims to assailants reaches to 92 (since January) in 31 countries. Mexico, as it routinely observes journo-murders for several years, witnessed the killings of 12 scribes in 2020 followed by Pakistan (8 dead), Afghanistan (7), Iraq & Honduras (5 each), Syria & the Philippines (4 each), etc.
Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), the Geneva based media watchdog in its annual report stated that Nigeria and Venezuela witnessed the murders of three scribes each, followed by Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Liberia, Somalia, (two each), Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Russia, Argentina, Cameroon, Ecuador, Mozambique, Paraguay, Sweden, Barbados, etc (one each).
“Fewer journalists have died in areas of armed conflict this year, but too many of them have been targeted for their works in peaceful countries,” commented Blaise Lempen, general secretary of PEC (www.pressemblem.ch) maintaining the strong stand of condemnations against those media killings and consistent  demand to book the culprits under concerned laws.
More than 580 journalists have died of Covid-19 complications where affected countries include Peru (93 casualties), India (53), Brazil (51), Mexico (42), Ecuador & Bangladesh (41 each), Italy (34), USA (30), Pakistan (22), Turkey (17), UK (12), etc and thus a single year snatched away the lives of over 600 journalists with the pandemic and violence, stated Lempen adding that it is the  worst statistics since the Second World War.
India witnessed the latest killing of a video journalist in Rajasthan as Abhishek Soni (27) succumbed to injuries because of attacks by three assailants.  Soni, who used to work for a local news channel, went to a roadside eatery along with a women media employee on 8 December evening. As they were waiting the assailants started starring at her. When Soni resisted them, it ended up in hot debates and physical attacked by them. Finally  Soni died in a Jaipur hospital on 23 December.
Earlier, a Malayalam journalist lost his life in a hit & run incident on 14 December evening  inside Thiruvananthapuram city. SV Pradeep (43), who remained critical over the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Communist party ruled Kerala, worked for media outlets like News 18, Jai Hind, Mediaone, Mangalam, Kairali, etc.
Days before, sad news broke from Uttar Pradesh (UP), where journalist Rakesh Singh Nirbhik (35) was found dead along with a friend on 28 November as his house in Balrampur locality was hit by a sudden explosion. Severely injured Rakesh  and his friend were taken to the hospital, where both succumbed to burn injuries. Victim families claimed  it as a pre-planned murder as Rakesh developed enmities against some locals with his media reports in Rashtriya Swaroop.
Andhra Pradesh (AP) journalist G Nagaraj (45) was killed by a group of goons at Hanumantha area adjacent to Tamil Nadu. The Telugu reporter was attacked with sharp weapons in full public view on 22 November and he died on his way to the hospital. Nagaraj wrote a series of articles against the real-estate mafia for  Tamil newspaper Villangam to invite probable enmities.
UP’s Sonbhadra locality witnessed the murder of rural reporter Uday Paswan along with his wife on 16 November.  Associated with a Lucknow-based Hindi daily, Paswan  died on the spot as they were attacked by a group of goons. His wife Sheetla Paswan succumbed to injuries next day in the hospital. Another UP scribe Suraj Pandey (25) was found dead on a railway track at Sadar Kotwail area on 12 November. His family members in Unnao locality claimed that the Hindi reporter was murdered.
Bhopal  based television reporter Syed Adil Wahab (35) was found murdered at a forest area on 8 November. Wahab, who used to work for a Hindi news channel  went missing since the previous day and later his injured body was recovered by the police. Tamil television scribe Isravel Moses (27) was hacked to death by a group of anti-social elements in  Kancheepuram on the same day.
Assam’s Kakopathar based television journalist Parag Bhuyan (55) died in a mysterious road accident on 11 November night. The government also already ordered a CID probe into the incident and the police have seized the vehicle that hit Bhuyan and arrested its driver & handyman.
Another UP journalist  Ratan Singh (45), who worked for satellite news channel Sahara Samay was shot dead  by his neighbours in Ballia locality on 24 August. Tinsukia based Assamese television scribe Bijendeep Tanti (32) was found  murdered  on 8 August at his rented office.
Weeks back, Madhya Pradesh journalist Sunil Tiwari (35), who worked for a Gwalior-based Hindi newspaper was beaten, stabbed and shot to death in Niwari locality  on 22 July. Same day, UP journalist  Vikram Joshi (45) succumbed to  injuries in the hospital who was attacked on 20 July  by some local goons. Another AP journalist named Ganta Naveen (27) was murdered at Nandigama locality on 29 June. The digital channel reporter developed enmity with some influential persons in his locality and they are suspected to organize the crime.
The brutal murder of  UP’s young and brave reporter Shubham Mani Tripathi  shocked the media fraternity. Shubham (25) continued reporting against illegal sand miners to Kanpur-based Hindi daily Kampu Mail even after receiving death-threats from the criminals. He was shot dead in  Unnao locality on 19 June by two shooters. Orissa’s portal reporter Aditya Kumar Ransingh (40) was killed on 16 February in Banki locality.
Bad news was waiting for Assam’s media fraternity as a television scribe went on missing on 19 December.  Gautam Hazarika, who worked for Assamese satellite news channel DY365, faced a major brain stroke three years back and he was recovering with tedious physiotherapy sessions. On the fateful day  Gautam went outside without his mobile phone and since then he remains traceless. His wife informed the police about his disappearance.
Last year, India witnessed nine incidents of journo-killings, but only one case emerged as a targeted murder for works as journalist. K Satyanarayana (45) of Andhra Jyothy was hacked to death on 15 October.
Local scribes informed Satyanarayana was targeted in earlier too. Others who were killed last year include Jobanpreet Singh,Vijay Gupta, Radheyshyam Sharma, Ashish Dhiman, Chakresh Jain, Anand Narayan and Nityanand Pandey. Kerala scribe K Muhammed Basheer was mowed down by a vehicle.
Various local, regional and national journo-bodies in India along with a number of international media watchdogs like the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters sans/without Borders, International federation of journalists, PEC, etc have condemned the incidents of murders and demanded the government to book the culprits under the law ensuring  justice to the victim-families.
(The author is a northeast India based journalist and country contributor to PEC)

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