Says ‘Reporters Without Borders’: Kashmiri journalists targets of violence by soldiers
Srinagar, Nov 03: The journalists in Kashmir are often the “targets of violence by soldiers acting with the central government’s tacit consent”, said a report released by international media advocacy group ‘Reporters Without Borders (RSF)’ on Friday.
It added that the coverage of Kashmir, continues to be very “difficult, and there are no protective mechanisms”.
“Journalists working for local media outlets are often the targets of violence by soldiers acting with the central government’s tacit consent,” the report reads.
Referring to 2016 unrest in Kashmir, the report said that the Internet was “cut by the military and was often interrupted thereafter to prevent communication between protesters and prevent coverage by the media and citizen journalists”.
The RSF report said that Hindu nationalists were trying to purge all manifestations of “anti-national” thought from the “national debate, self-censorship is growing in the mainstream media”.
“Journalists are increasingly the targets of online smear campaigns by the most radical nationalists, who vilify them and even threaten physical reprisals. Prosecutions are also used to gag journalists who are overly critical of the government, with some prosecutors invoking Section 124-a of the penal code, under which ‘sedition’ is punishable by life imprisonment,” it reads.
It says that no journalist has so far been convicted of sedition “but the threat encourages self-censorship”. “The government has also introduced new foreign funding regulations to limit international influence.”
RSF has asked Indian authorities to identify and prosecute those responsible for the many death threats against journalists in the past two weeks. “It reminds Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government that the safety of journalists is a cornerstone of democracy and the rule of law,” it states.
The report briefly mentioned the killings of two Indian journalists, Shantanu Bhowmick of Dinraat (Day and Night) and Gauri Lankesh of Gauri Lankesh Patrike.
On September 5, Lankesh was shot to death by unknown assailants outside her home in Rajarajeshwari Nagar in Benguluru, the capital of southern Indian state of Karnataka. Lankesh was known for being a critic of right-wing Hindu extremism. Bhowmick, a political reporter for Dinraat (Day and Night) was beaten to death on September 20, by a mob while covering protests outside Agartala, the capital of north eastern state of Tripura.
The report said that since 2015, at least nine journalists have been murdered in connection with their work in India, which is ranked 136th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.
Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, said that the wave of threats was indicative of a climate that “no longer allows the use of press freedom in India”.
“Since Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014, journalists have repeatedly been the targets of threatening campaigns orchestrated by nationalists, campaigns that can lead to death, as we saw last month. The government must demonstrate its support for the targeted journalists and clearly c