Gauri Lankesh, Image courtesy Twitter
Concerned over the attacks on journalists and police failing to catch culprits, a Trinamool Congress MP will move a private resolution in Rajya Sabha on Friday seeking a separate section in Indian Penal Code dealing with offences against media persons.
Referring to the murder of Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru last September, journalist-turned MP Vivek Gupta said in his private member resolution that cases of work-related threats and violence against journalists are increasing. He also demanded a CBI probe into the murder of Lankesh, who was an outspoken critic of Hindutva forces.
Gupta said there is no umbrella scheme for the protection of security of journalists and media community while seeking a nationwide survey to get an actual estimate of number of journalists facing work-related threats to formulate a protection plan and welfare for them. Another suggestion from the MP was setting up of a toll-free number so that journalists can contact police in case of emergency.
Quoting a report of Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the resolution said, "not a single case of journalist's murder was solved in India over the past decade and 96% of cases of attack on media personnel remained unresolved since 1992.
Noting that the country ranks 136 out of 192 countries in 2017 on World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders, the resolution said, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) database records only those cases of attacks on media persons where there is 'grievous hurt of varying degrees' but does not include murder of journalists resulting in under-reporting of cases. The number of journalists facing work related threats is "grossly under estimated" due to less reporting of such cases, it said.
The official statistics itself suggest 142 attacks against journalists for grievous hurt between 2014 and 2015. However, only 73 people were arrested in these cases.
"There is a disparity across the states between the registered cases of attack on the media personnel and the number of persons arrested for these attacks. For instance, Uttar Pradesh registered highest number of such cases (64), but only 4 persons were arrested....whereas in 26 cases of attack on journalists which were registered in Madhya Pradesh, 42 persons were arrested. The conviction rate of the persons arrested for crimes against journalists is even lower than the arrests," the resolution said.