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Truth Can Set You Free, It Can Also Get You Killed If You’re A Journalist In India

Posted on May 19, 2016 in Media, Politics

By Kumar Saurav:

PicMonkey CollageRecently, two journalists, Rajdeo Ranjan and Akhilesh Pratap, were shot dead in Bihar and Jharkhand. They are not the first and certainly will not be the last of India’s murdered journalists. In 2015 also, four journalists – Jagendar Singh, Sandeep Kothari, Sanjay Pathak and Hemant Yadav – were killed brutally.

Jagendar Singh used to run a Facebook page called Shahjahanpur Samachar where he wrote about corruption and illegal mining. On 22, May 2015 posted saying that he was being harassed by the police, other criminals and politicians and on June 1st he was dead.

Sandeep Kothari was a freelance investigating crime journalist who also was murdered because of exposing illegal mining and land grabbing. Before his murder, he told the police that he had received threats but didn’t receive any help. He was set on fire. A case was registered but nothing serious happened. One or two people were arrested and some police personnel were sacked. But the question that remains unanswered is, is this enough? Was there nothing more the government could do? And if not, then why do we need a government again?

A system that’s damaged at the core can’t be mended by auxiliaries no matter how hard journalists work, no matter how honest the police is and no matter how much we as individuals try to change matters. As long as the government continues to be corrupt there is nothing anyone can do. It’s so easy to squash out ‘unwanted’ people talking about things that make powerful people ‘uncomfortable’. For all we know, the government might as well ban serious journalism tomorrow and replace it with ‘entertainment’ and ‘sansani’ (not that they are too far away from doing that).

The media has the power of free speech but it seems they are controlled by powerful people (especially those with political connections). A journalist by his hard work tries to throw light on what’s going wrong in our society. They work really hard to collect evidence by talking to people, by chasing sources and then bringing their story(truth) to the public. Some are not even paid that well for what they do. And what do they get in return? Death, some condolence, and if they are lucky a couple of news stories causing a little bit of stir for a couple of days.

The journalists who died trying to reveal the truth to the public lived middle-class lives. They have no one to look after them. No godfather. Else they would still be alive one can guess. Naturally if no one looked after them then who we can’t expect anyone to look after their family once they are gone. Rajdeo Ranjan he left behind a 16-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter. What about them now?

Media has always been the voice of the common man of India. But controlling such an organisation and by creating such paralysing circumstances for those who belong to this organisation, the government is trying its best to suppress our voice. It’s no longer about Rajdeo or Akhilesh or any one individual. This is our collective death. This is what affects all of us. If we don’t speak together then who will hear and who will heed?