By Sadaf Aijaz,
Yet again India has earned a muddy reputation and this time it has made its name in top 10 countries; not in terms of being good in Economy, Literacy and power but because of being as the fifth deadliest country for journalists, a report by Reporters without Borders depict. The report highlights that India has not been a ‘safe place’ for its journalism profession, with its journalists living with fear. Last year (2018), six journalists were murdered, while others were deliberately targeted for murdering attempts, physical assaults and threats, In fact in the name of Hindu Nationalism and its Nationalist rights the country also witnessed ‘hate campaign ‘against Journalists. “In the central State of Madhya Pradesh, a dump truck was used to run down and kill Sandeep Sharma, a journalist who had been investigating a local Sand Mafia,” read the Reporters Sans frontiers report.The Report has shown that nearly 61% of Journalists were purposely targeted since their unbiased reporting had been a threat to certain people in power including Political, Economic and Religious sections.
Attempt to silence the Media is not a mere surprise in the world’s largest Democracy, but once or twice in a month attack on journalists keep hitting the headlines of newspapers, if you see five journalists including renowned Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari were killed in connection with their work in the first seven months of 2018. In India journalist have come under repeated attacks, they have been killed arrested and wrongfully implicated in many cases. The media space has grown more competitive and journalists are challenged to provide greater depth of information to satisfy the interest and needs of their commanding audiences. This cycle indirectly leads to the “persecution of journalists”. Domestic Indian law entitles every journalist to report information regardless of whether this information imparts the Government or private actors, However when they try to report, try to put the real facts in front of people they are being targeted and their freedom of expression is being curbed in a deem day light.
The situation is quite worst in a conflict hit state like Jammu and Kashmir, where Journalist become the subject of such things every day. The valley of Kashmir in particular, is reeling under conflict from last more than a decade. During this period Media has gained a tremendous momentum .There are reputed International and National News organisations working in the valley. The trend of conflict reporting which is been considered as one of the important and prominent content of media messages is not only the journalism in Kashmir ,Social and Developmental issues are touched to a greater extend ,a number of new media enterprises mostly regional laid much emphasis on these issues rather filling the papers with conflict .Ethics and practices in Media is almost same everywhere however there are certain limitations and hurdles which make the job of a journalist not an easy one in the valley. According to Ghulam Hassan kaloo, “A journalist in Kashmir is working under the shadow of two guns”. Journalism as a profession is very challenging that demands lot of hard work, courage and dedication. The situation like that in Kashmir makes it more challenging and risky. In the valley scores of journalists have been killed and injured while several others faced threats, harassments and court cases.
To report about the truth is costlier in Kashmir than in most of the states of the country. It is very difficult for a journalist to report from ground zero as sometimes they are not allowed to report the truth because of security reasons and sometimes Government orders not to allow them to proceed to particular places and while reporting many Cases go unreported where journalist are being beaten up, harassed and many got killed while performing their professional duties. The journalist of conflict region needs Security and freedom to speak and express which should not be curbed so that they can present the situation in a better way as they report from ground zero however the situation is quite different. If you look at the last two years you would come across number of stories where you find journalist become the subject of harassment and injuries when they were performing their duties. They are being targeted from the both sides be it from security or from people. Security forces beat them for showing the reality and people abuse them for not showing the reality because of National Media’s biased coverage people of valley had hatred towards journalist which result in anger for them and they sometimes beat them as well.
There are not such big organisations in Kashmir that can look after the safety of journalist working here, although there are organisations like Kashmir press Association, Kashmir press Photography Association, they can only condemn and nothing is in their hands, There is not a fully fledged organisation who can support and look after the safety of Journalists so that the crimes against journalist should be stopped to some extent .
To end this I would only say that “Journalists play an important and critical societal role as they are “soldiers fighting with the pen”. They deserve protection by immediate legal remedies and regulations ,which embrace members representing all forms of media from print ,television to digital .Establishment of a legal protection entity ,to offer legal defence services for journalists with existing and pending court matters is of paramount importance as is access to the Governmental informational and courts without Bias .Therefore great and more substantial change is needed to provide protections that will ensure security and guard the lives of journalists in all over the state and India as well .
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