Shujaat Bukhari and press freedom in India

Analysing growing violence against Indian journalists and press in the background of the assassination of Shujaat Bukhari.

Journalists stage protest against the Shujaat Bukhari in Kolkata. (PTI file photo)

Shujaat Bukhari, journalist and editor of 'Rising Kashmir', was brutally killed by unidentified assailants in front of his office in Lal Chowk, Srinagar last week.

He spoke openly about human rights violations in Kashmir and took a stand for peace in the state. In his last tweet, he talked about human rights and press freedom in Jammu and Kashmir.

Bukhari became the fourth journalist to be killed in India in 2018. Last year, three journalists lost their lives, including Bengaluru-based journalist Gauri Lankesh.

The World Press Freedom Index for 2018 prepared by Reporters Without Borders shows that India's ranking has fallen two spots to 138. [https://www.deccanherald.com/international/press-freedom-index-2018.html ]
 
More murders

In March, two journalists from a Hindi daily were killed on the highway when they were returning from work. 'Dainik Bhaskar' journalist Naveen Nishchal and his associate Vijay Singh were struck by an SUV owned by the husband of a former village head in Bihar's Bhojpur district. It was reported that an altercation between Nishchal and the ex-village head, Shaheeda Parveen, and her kin led to the murder.

In the last week of March, a journalist from television channel 'News Nation' was murdered. The sand mafia in Bhind district of Madhya Pradesh was allegedly behind the crime. Sandeep Sharma was riding a motorcycle when he was hit by a truck. He was conducting an investigation into alleged links between the sand mafia and the police. There were reports that Sharma received multiple death threats after he published reports on the sand mafia in October 2017. The CCTV footage shows the truck striking Sharma's bike and driving over his body.

Personal attacks

Rana Ayyub, a freelance journalist from Mumbai, faced a malicious personal attack. A group of people created and circulated her face in a morphed porn clip on social media with her contact details. She filed a case in this regard.

Last month, Ravish Kumar, a senior journalist from NDTV,  received death threats from Bajrang Dal activists for a fake message with a false claim circulated with his name. 

Govt restrictions

This year, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore tried to introduce a rule to restrict journalists spreading fake news. The move was halted after a huge public backlash. 

The Union Government has formed a committee to design a framework to regulate online content. This has been opposed by the media fraternity. The recommendations of the committee are yet to be released.

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