At least six journalists were killed, another 108 attacked while 13 media houses were targeted in India in 2021 while the spotlight on the denial of press freedom continued to be on occupied Jammu and Kashmir where journalists often found themselves summoned to police stations, FIRs registered against them, their houses raided, being manhandled and beaten by occupation forces, according to a new report.
The India Press Freedom Report 2021 by the Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) said that occupied Kashmir and Indian states, including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Tripura topped the list of areas across the country where journalists and media houses were targeted last year.
Of the six journalists killed, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar reported two deaths each, while Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra reported the death of one journalist each. Eight female journalists faced arrest, summons and registration of First Information Reports (FIRs).
“The highest number of journalists/media organisations targeted was in [occupied] Jammu and Kashmir (25), followed by Uttar Pradesh (23); Madhya Pradesh (16); Tripura (15); Delhi (eight); Bihar (six); Assam (five); Haryana and Maharashtra (four each); Goa and Manipur (three each); Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal (two each); and Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Kerala (one each),” read the report.
“The widespread attacks on press freedom from Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to Tripura are an indicator of the continuing deterioration of civic space in the country,” stated RRAG Director Suhas Chakma.
In 2021, at least 24 journalists were physically attacked, threatened, harassed, and obstructed from doing their work by public officials, including police, across the country, according to the report. Out of the 24 journalists, 17 were beaten by police.
Physical attacks on journalists by police were mainly reported from occupied Jammu and Kashmir. During the last year, FIRs against 44 journalists were registered, including in some cases, multiple FIRs against the same journalists in several states.
Uttar Pradesh reported the highest registration of FIRs with nine; followed by six each in Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir, and three in Bihar among others. Out of the 44 journalists, FIRs were filed against 21 journalists under Section 153 of the Indian Penal Code relating to promoting enmity.