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Persisting vulnerability to Indian scribes

 article about journalism in india
Helplessness to working journalist in India is no way an alien issue as the country loses a good number of journalists to assailants and also medical emergencies. There may be a single casualty among the media fraternity where someone is targeted for journalistic works in the last 200 days of 2020, the populous country however starts witnessing a large number of casualties because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The recent murder incident at Vijay Nagar locality only reflects the vulnerability for a scribe who dared to oppose a section of criminals. Journalist Vikram Joshi (50) was attacked by a group of goons on 20 July evening as he was returning home on a two-wheeler with his two daughters (aged 5 and 11). The goons not only manhandled Joshi, but also shot at him. Few local residents took critically injured Joshi to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to injuries on 22 July.

 article about journalism in india
Joshi, who worked for a local newspaper JanSagarToday, was seemingly attacked as he lodged a complaint at Vijay Nagar police post demanding actions against some goons who harassed his niece on 16 July. But the police sat over the complaint for days. The goons took advantage of it and shot at Joshi in front of his minor daughters. The police arrested nine individuals suspecting their role in the murder. The local post in-charge was also suspended because of his negligence in duties.

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 could emerge as a case of targeted murder. Andhra journalist K Satyanarayana (45) of Telugu daily AndhraJyothy faced the fate because of his activities as a journalist. 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 no less than 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 (Madhusudan Reddy) succumbed to corona complications on 17 July, who was hospitalized with high fever and the sense of breathlessness. He became the second media covid-casualty from AP after video journalist M Parthasarathy died on 12 July undergoing medical interventions.

Earlier, Tamil Nadu television reporter Ramanathan, Orissa journalists namely Simanchal Panda, K.Ch Ratnam and Priyadarshi Patnaik succumbed to the virus infections. 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. Lately over one hundred Guwahati based media employees, working for news papers, news channels and news portals, 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 journalists 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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