ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Creeping Un-freedoms

The deliberate silence of rulers is another form of media control.


The climate for journalism in India has grown steadily adverse in the last year, concludes the India Freedom Report 2017 by the independent media website the Hoot. Two journalists, including Gauri Lankesh, were shot dead and one was hacked to death. Although 11 journalists were killed, only three of these deaths could be connected directly to the work done by them. There were 46 attacks on journalists in the line of duty during the year, and 27 instances where journalists were detained, arrested or had cases filed against them. 

The report also notes various forms of censorship and denial of access to the media. It is interesting that such interventions appear to cut across party lines. Hence, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government in Goa restricted press access by briefing only select journalists, in Kerala, the chief minister of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) government threw the media out of a meeting between him and representatives of the BJP. Rajasthan almost passed a law that would prevent the media from reporting on corruption charges against judges and public servants, while in Darjeeling the electronic media was told not to cover the Gorkhaland agitation. The Congress party also joined the “press control” game by barring channels that were hostile to it from its press conferences. Meanwhile, in Jammu and Kashmir, it was business as usual with the media being either barred from covering certain events, such as the Kupwara visit of the Government of India’s special representative Dineshwar Sharma, or working under frequent internet shutdowns after every incident of unrest. In fact, Jammu and Kashmir had the worst free speech and media freedom record of all states in 2017 with a record 40 days of internet shutdowns (out of a total of 77 for the whole country) apart from arrests of journalists and other forms of intimidation. Not surprisingly, India’s ranking in terms of press freedom is not something to celebrate.

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Updated On : 29th Jan, 2018
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