Asserting Media Person’s Rights in India
By Nava Thakuria
For more than one reason, India remains a hazardous place for hardcore journalists irrespective of the regimes in power at the national capital or province headquarters. The populous country witnesses the murder of over five media persons annually and that has not been improved for decades. The land of Bhagawan Vishnu, Mahamuni Buddha and Gandhi Mahatma has not succeeded in resolving any of those murder of journalist cases legally or logically.The media fraternity of world’s largest democracy this time observed an unusual Gandhi Jayanti as scores of scribes across the country organized protest demonstrations in different locations with sole demand for ensuring safety, security and justice to the working journalists. Different press clubs, journo-media-bodies along with other institutions formed human chains, symbolic protests and also took out processions in support of the demand.The reason behind in demonstrating angers on the birthday of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on 2 October was the relentless violence broke out against the journalists in different forms across the country. With the spirit of the lawyer turned journalist turned India’s Father of the Nation, the media fraternity also showed their commitment to defy all physical and intellectual challenges against them in their professional lives.The south Asian nation witnessed three shocking news of journo-murders during September 2017 and the media fraternity along with their well-wishers seemingly rediscovered the vulnerability for the scribes who continue to pursue critical journalism. The year 2017 had witnessed the killing of eight journalists in nine months, but as usual the initial reactions to those killings from the authority and the public remained lukewarm.It was only Kannada editor-journalist Gauri Lankesh’s murder on September 5 at her Bangaluru (earlier known as Bangalore) residence that aroused massive protests across the country. Publisher of Gauri Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada language newspaper in Karnataka of central India, Ms Gauri was shot dead by unidentified gunmen, following which strong reactions were observed not only from inside the country but also various international organizations.A Left ideology inclined journalist Ms Gauri’s assassination tempted more civil society groups, which are predominantly against the Hindu nationalist ideologue like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS) along with Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), to come to streets demanding justice. They were in hurry to make statements that the outspoken journalist was targeted by the ruling political elements as she used to criticize both RSS and BJP absolutely.However, the Congress ruled Karnataka province government and its chief minister Siddaramaiah had a cordial relationship with Ms Gauri. Soon after her assassination, the province government chief announced her demise as a personal loss. But for reasons, best known to Siddaramaiah only, the chief minister’s reactions against the killer(s) of Ms Gauri, 55, were soft. So does the investigation process!Protest-demonstrations were so loud that it inspired a Communist Party of India (Marxist) run Tripura government chief to personally join in a demonstration at Agartala. The chief minister Manik Sarkar’s participation in the protest program encouraged the media fraternity of northeast India and he was thoroughly appreciated for the gesture.But when a young television scribe of Tripura itself was beaten to death by a mob, the same CPI (M) chief minister remained silent. The Agartala based journalists, while condemning the murder of Shantanu Bhowmik on September 20, had to raise voices for getting reactions from Sarkar. Even then the chief minister, also in charge of home portfolio, pronounced a spongy reaction towards the incident.However, the condemnations from carious national and international bodies were pouring against the brutal murder of Shantanu, 29, who used to work for an Agartala based Bengali-language cable news channel named Din-Raat. A series of protest programs were organized by various Indian media bodies across the country demanding justice to Shantanu’s bereaved mother and sister.On the fateful day, Shantanu went to cover a program of Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), which was pretesting against the ruling CPI (M) and slowly it turned violent. Claimed to have supports from the tribal population of Tripura, the IPFT maintains its demand for a separate homeland (read Twipraland) for the tribal people out of Tripura. The party, which has seemingly a political understanding with the BJP, continued its violent protests since the last few years.The IPFT protest program at Mandwai of west Tripura, bordering Bangladesh, soon witnessed the arrival of many cadres belonged to the CPI (M)’s tribal wing Tripura Rajya Upajati Ganamukti Parishad (TRUGP) at the location. Both the parties had already engaged in violent clashes on the previous day at the same location.So the situation got charged and finally members of both IPFT and TRUGP turned aggressive and later violent. Shantanu started shooting the violent activities with his mobile phone, as his lens-man avoided the professional camera for fear of abusive reactions from the agitators. As Shantanu started capturing the visuals of IPFT members attacking the opponent & police and also damaging vehicles on the roadside, he was asked initially to stop recording.Later the protesters chased him for the phone and some of them turned unruly to finally attack Shantanu with stick-rods and other sharp items. Blood soaked Shantanu was rescued and sent to the hospital by the police, but till then he stopped breathing. His phone was however missing, which was also revealed by the State police chief Akhil Kumar Shukla.Meanwhile, Shantanu’s killing was condemned and condoled by various international forums like the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Pars based Reporters sans/without Borders (RSF), the Brussels based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) etc, where everyone asked the Tripura government to go for a ‘thorough investigation’ into the death of Shantanu to bring those responsible to justice and also ensure the future safety of journalists.Amnesty International, in its condemnation statement pointed out that the killing of journalists cannot become the order of the day. State governments in India must do everything in their power to prevent journalists from becoming targets for their viewpoints or affiliations. Authorities must end impunity for these killings, it added. Condemning the killing of Shantanu, UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova said, “I trust the authorities will conduct an investigation into this killing and bring its perpetrators to justice.”In India, all influential media bodies like Indian Newspaper Society, Editors’ Guild of India, Broadcast Editors' Association, Press Club of India, Indian Women's Press Corps, Federation of Press Clubs in India besides various journalist unions strongly condemned the murder of Shantanu and urged the Manik Sarkar government help delivering justice. Even the Press Council of India, a quasi-judicial body, took note of Shantanu’s killing and sought a report from the Tripura government.All media bodies of northeast India came put with the protest demonstrations against the killing of Shantanu and demanding a high level probe (preferably by Central Bureau of Investigation). Extending moral supports to the Tripura journalists for justice, the media bodies asked the government to compensate the family of Shantanu adequately. They also urged the Union government in New Delhi to formulate a national action plan for delivering earliest justices to journo-victim families.The string of India journo-killings began with Hari Prakash (killed on January 2) and the trend continued with the murder of Brajesh Kumar Singh (January 3), Shyam Sharma (May 15), Kamlesh Jain (May 31), Surender Singh Rana ( July 29), Ms Gauri, Shantanu and KJ Singh (September 23). India lost six journalists to assailants in 2016, which was preceded by five cases in 2015. It witnessed murders of two scribes in 2014, but the year 2013 reported as many as 11 journalists' murders.According to the RSF, India is ranked 136th among 180 countries in its World Press Freedom Index (2017) barometer, which is just ahead of its neighbors like Pakistan (139th), Sri Lanka (141), Bangladesh (146) and China (176). Norway topped the list where India’s neighbors including Bhutan (84), Nepal (100), Maldives (117), Afghanistan (120), Burma (131) etc are ahead of it. One party ruled North Korea (180) is at the bottom of the list, where Vietnam and China were placed at 175th and 176th positions, respectively.
|Mr. Nava Thakuria (right) along with other journalists in protest|
POK Editor Bats for More Exchanges
Cries Mounted for Reviving Nabin Chandra ...
Scam, Media Outburst and Its Aftermath
Amidst Chinese Threat Dalai Lama Concludes ...
China’s Myanmar Bonanza Sans Responsibility
Manufacturing Misguided Protests in Assam
Assam Forum Bats for Work Permits to ...
Bhupen-da Came alive with Dhola-Sadiya Bridge ...
Remembering My Principal Sir!
Saluting Tricolour to Defy Militants’ Diktat ...
Underlining India’s Productive Engagement in ...
Young Journalist Killed in India, ...
Unpaid Media Employees of Northeast India
Journalist Body Urges Political Parties to ...
Saving the Tigers from Extinction
Glorious Tribute to Bhupenda
Burmese Students Term New Government Bogus
Burma Turns Hostile to Indian Separatist Groups
Northeast India Rediscovers Tricolour
Indian People’s Win Inspires Burmese Activists
Nobel Support for a Noble Cause
Activists Condemn India’s Arm Deal with Burma
Protest Note from Guwahati Press Club
Journalists’ Killings: Justice Eludes in ...
Games Gogoi Played In Assam Polls
Remembering Parag: Assam’s Way
Helicopter Missing from Northeast Indian Sky
Allegations Poured on Indian Premier
Allegations Fired at Indian Premier
Rising Resentment against Corruption in India
Satellite News Channel Launched in Northeast ...
Looking at Burma's Forthcoming General ...
Burma Election, Refugees and Media’s Role
When British Newspaper Tenders Apology to ...
TST Contributor Honored with Excellence Award
Burning Rhino Horns: Creating Controversy
Condemning Military Election in Burma
Protest against Military Election in Burma
Burmese Demonstrates Anger against Junta
Assam: A Pretending Warrior and Peace ...
South-eastern Bangladesh Erupts in Violence
Grim Picture of Human Rights in India
Burma on Radar as New Delhi Prepares
Assam: Where People Defy Militant's Diktat
Bangladesh Readies to Hang Bangabandhu Killers
International Film Festival Begins in Guwahati
RK Pachauri under Attack from British Media
Selling News Space Culture in India: Concerns ...
Asian MPs Insist on a Free & Fair 2010 Burma ...
Guwahati Festival to Highlight Terrorism
Assam: Brutal Armed Group, Incompetent ...
Without Suu Kyi, 2010 Polls Have No Meaning
Beijing Eyes Northeast India !
Bumpy Road to Copenhagen
Nava Thakuria Elected Assistant Gen. Sec. of ...
Northeast India: People Defy Militant’s ...
Northeast India: Waiting for Justice for 18 ...
Northeast India : Where Protector Turns Killer
Raising Support for Democracy in Burma
Indian Muslims Raise Voices for Uighurs
Will Captive Breeding of Vultures Work?
Northeast India: Trailing a Notorious Rebel
Is Burma Junta Learning from Cyclone Nargis!
Is a Nepali Fugitive Winning Indian Election?
When Politician Uses Scribe for Vested Interest
Assam Editor Killing: Protest Continues
Freedom under Chinese Boot in Tibet
Pride and Poverty: India's Amazing Blending
Sri Lankan Crisis: Shelling on Hospital ...
Northeast India Defies Militant's Diktat:
Woman Journalist Killed in Nepal
Urging for Insurance Coverage to Media Persons
Bangladesh: Waiting for a Stable Democratic ...
ULFA Leader Appeals UNHCR for Political Asylum
Assam Mourns Death of Mumbai Terror Attack
When an Assamese Magazine Rejects ...
Bangladesh Polls: Apprehension on Final Outcome
Manipur Asks for CBI Probe into Scribe's ...
Scribe's Killing in Northeast: Demand for ...
'Suspend Burma from BIMSTEC'
Guwahati Citizens Meet to Discuss Terrorism
Group Clashes Shock Northeast India
When Media Distorts Facts to Manufacture News
Where Editors Swindle Reporters
Calling upon Comprehensive Packages for ...
Highlighting Media's Challenge and ...
Media on Media' Glitch: An Exercise of ...
An Ignited Assam Baffles ULFA
Assam Defies Militant's Diktat to Celebrate ...
Journalists Dare to Defy Militants' Diktat
When Bangladeshi Influx Ignites Assam
Nepal Can Expect a Consensus of Government Soon
Victorious Maoists Lose Battle for Kathmandu
India: Assam Party Waits for an Opportunity
Burma after Nargis: Devastated, Depressed and ...
When a Disastrous Regime Continues
Exposing Corrupt Journalists of Our Time
Nepal Waits a Republic Regime: Diasporas Don't ...
Waiting for Consensus on Government in Nepal
Condemnation Pours on Burmese Junta as Suu ...
American-Assamese Preparing White Paper on ...
Assam Government Bows Down to Public Outrages
Shaky Start to Druk Democracy
India and Burma Push Joint Project
Bhutan Turns Democratic
Disregarding Public Outcry: Assam Government's ...
Army, Police Heads Become Governors in North ...
Rhinos Dwindle as Poaching Thrives in India
Taste of Democracy in Bhutan Is Not for ...
Nava Thakuria, who serves as a special correspondent for The Seoul
Times, is based in Guwahati of Northeast India. He also contributes
articles for many media outlets based in different parts of the glove,
and can be contacted at email@example.com