The Indian Constitution under Article 19 states that “all the citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression. The United Nations’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: ” Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers. Now the question raises that – Are these rights fully granted to the Indian Media Houses? Are the Indian Journalists free enough to raise their voice against anything unfair or illegal?
If we look upon papers and documents we will be satisfied that the Indian Press is very much free since independence. But if we look deep into reality we will get to know at what conditions the journalists and media houses are working in our democratic nation.
Violence against journalists here has been increasing over the years, especially for investigative journalists and reporters in that field. The Paris based media advocacy group ‘Reporters Without Borders’ has painted a sorry picture of the kind of stress Indian journalists are working under. Covering Kashmir continues to be a nightmare for journalists, with the government remaining very sensitive and silent about the state. In 2016, the most dangerous state for journalists was Uttar Pradesh where more than four journalists have been killed and almost one attack on a journalist every month. We all remember the killing of journalist Rajdeo Ranjan and the involvement of Md. Shahabuddin, the former RJD MP, in the killing. In 2014, there were 63 incidents of journalists attacked in Uttar Pradesh. And altogether 37 journalists are being killed in India between 1992-2015.
In the latest annual World Press Freedom Index, which was based on media pluralism, transparency, independence, self-censorship, legal framework, abuses and safety of journalists, India ranked at a lowly 133 among 180 countries. The extremist violence-ridden Pakistan occupies the 147th rank.
According to Reporters Without Borders, growing right wing extremism in India means that journalists will continue to be at risk, being attacked by various religious groups and political bodies that are quick to take offence.
By looking at these sorry figures hitting the dynamic Indian Media we can say that the situation is worsening for Indian journalists inspite of playing a significant role of democracy’s watchdog.
So, dear reader, we the Indian citizens, being respectful to the duty and sacrifice made by each and every Indian Journalist to drive a change in our society, must urge the government for a national action plan for the safety of our journalists; as the journalists are the architects of this new revolution.