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Enduring Vulnerability to Indian Scribes

Scribe Killed in India

Vulnerability to working journalists in India is no way an alien issue
as the populous country loses a number of working journalists to
assailants and also medical emergencies every year. Even though there
was only one casualty in the Indian media fraternity during the first
half of 2020, who was targeted for journalistic works, the vast
country starts witnessing an alarming number of media-casualties due
to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Two recent incidents of journo-murder in central India reflects the
vulnerability for a scribe in the largest democracy of the globe. A
young journalist of Madhya Pradesh (Sunil Tiwari) was beaten, stabbed
and shot to death at  Niwari locality on 22 July. Tiwari (35), who
worked for a Gwalior-based Hindi newspaper, was attacked by a group of
criminals as he was returning home in the evening hours. He succumbed
to serious injuries on the way to a nearby hospital.

Sunil’s family claimed that he was targeted for reporting over
illogical activities by some locally influential persons. Few weeks
back, he even expressed apprehensions in his facebook account and
intimated the police about his fear, but they showed little
seriousness over his complaint citing that it was his personal
disputes with those individuals. The police already booked seven
persons suspecting their role in the murder.

Earlier, another journalist was attacked by a group of goons at Vijay
Nagar locality of Uttar Pradesh. Vikram Joshi (50) was manhandled and
shot at by the goons on 20 July, as he was returning home on a
two-wheeler with his two daughters (aged 5 and 11). Critically injured
Joshi was taken to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to injuries
two days later.

Joshi, who worked for a local newspaper titled JanSagarToday, was
seemingly attacked as he dared to oppose a section of criminals
lodging a police complaint against them, some of whom harassed his
niece few days back. But the police did not proceed for any action.
The goons only took advantage of it. Lately the police arrested nine
individuals suspecting their role in the murder. The local post
in-charge was also suspended.

Weeks back, a young scribe named Shubham Mani Tripathi (25) was
murdered  at Unnao locality of UP. The active and energetic
correspondent of Kanpur-based Hindi daily KampuMail had fallen prey to
bullets of two shooters as he was returning home on a two-wheeler.
Seriously injured Tripathi was brought to a Kanpur hospital, but he
succumbed to serious injuries on his head, chest and back on 19 June.

A resident of Brahmnagar in Unnao district, Tripathi was a born
patriot and used to report on illegal sand mining practices in his
locality. Recently married to Rashi Dixit, Tripathi even received
threats from unknown individuals, suspected to be illegal miners, for
his news-contents. But the courageous scribe did not bother and
continued his journalistic activities. UP police had arrested three
individuals suspecting their involvement with the murder.

Earlier, a digital channel reporter named Ganta Naveen (27) was
murdered on 29 June at Nandigama locality of Andhra Pradesh. The
reporter developed enmity with some influential persons in his
locality and they organized the crime to eliminate Naveen. The police
arrested eight accused in connection with his murder.

Orissa based scribe named Aditya Kumar Ransingh (40) was killed on 16
February along with a Congress leader in Banki locality under Cuttack
district. Engaged with a news portal, Ransingh was hacked to death by
two criminals, who were later arrested by the police. It was reported
that the scribe maintained bitter relationships with both the accused
individuals.

India as a whole witnessed nine incidents of journo-killing in 2019,
but only one incident factually emerged as a case of targeted murder.
The victim (Andhra journalist K Satyanarayana, 45), who worked for
Telugu daily newspaper AndhraJyothy,  faced the fate because of his
journalistic exercises. He was hacked to death on 15 October. Local
scribes informed Satyanarayana was targeted in earlier occasions too.
Others who were killed in India last year included Jobanpreet Singh
(Punjab’s online journalist was killed in police firings), Vijay Gupta
(Kanpur-based scribe shot dead by  close relatives), Radheyshyam
Sharma (Kushinagar-based journalist murdered by his neighbours),
Ashish Dhiman (Saharanpur-based photojournalist  shot dead along with
his brother by neighbours),  Chakresh Jain (Shahgarh-based freelance
journalist died of serious burn injuries), Anand Narayan (news channel
contributor of Mumbai murdered by miscreants) and Nityanand Pandey
(magazine editor in Thane killed by an employee).

Kerala’s journalist K Muhammed Basheer lost his life as a government
officer driven vehicle mowed down him. Guwahati-based scribe Naresh
Mitra died after sustaining head injuries in a mysterious accident
inside the city. Bihar’s scribe Pradeep Mandal was targeted by
miscreants, but he survived luckily. Mandal contributed a number of
news items against the local liquor mafia for DainikJagaran and
invited enmities from the goons.

Contrary to number of Indian journalists, eliminated by assailants,
the novel corona virus outbreak takes a bigger toll as over ten media
persons died of Covid-19 complications in the last four months. The
country witnesses hundreds of journalists infected with the virus in
different States as they continue playing the role of Covid-warriors
along with the doctors, nurses, sanitation workers and police
personnel.

Lately a senior television reporter from Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh
succumbed to Covid-19 complications on 17 July. Madhusudan Reddy, who
was based in Kadapa, was hospitalized as he suffered from fever and
breathlessness. Earlier, video journalist M Parthasarathy from the
same State died of the virus infection on 12 July while undergoing
medical interventions.

Tamil Nadu television reporter Ramanathan, Orissa journalists namely
Simanchal Panda, K.Ch Ratnam and Priyadarshi Patnaik also succumbed to
the infection. New Delhi based scribe Tarun Sisodia  killed himself
undergoing treatment at All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
Chennai based news videographer E Velmurugan, Chandigarh based news
presenter Davinder Pal Singh, Hyderabad based television scribe Manoj
Kumar, Agra based print journalist Pankaj Kulashrestha and Kolkata
based photojournalist Ronny Roy earlier died of the corona infections.
The printer-publisher of AsomiyaKhabar (Rantu Das) died of
heart-failure at a Guwahati  hospital, who later tested positive for
Covid-19. Presently, over one hundred Guwahati based media employees,
working for news papers, news channels and news portals as
corona-warriors have turned positive for the virus infection. But
shockingly the worrisome development has not been properly reported by
most of the local media outlets even though their employees got
infected.

The pandemic has also crashed of hundreds of mainstream media outlets
across the country as many surviving newspapers have closed down their
editions, reduced pages, cut salaries and laid off employees including
jou\rnalists citing the reason of  shrinking advertisement revenues.
And as usual only a few dared to raise voices against the managements
for their arbitrary decisions which ultimately turned a humiliating
experience for the media fraternity.

The author is a northeast India based journalist

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