Reporters Without Borders appeals again to the Indian government to set up a national plan for the protection of journalists amid a continuing wave of physical attacks on media personnel.
Raghavendra Dube, the 44-year-old owner and editor of Khushboo Ujala, a local weekly in Mumbai, the capital of the western state of Maharashtra, last week became the third Indian journalist to be murdered this year.
His body was found near Mira Road police station, in a Mumbai suburb, at around 5:30 a.m. on 17 July, just half an hour after he left the police station, where he had been helping a police investigation into an attack on two other journalists. He was beaten and stabbed to death.
Although the murder motive has yet to be determined, sources said he often helped the local police by informing them about bars that were operating illegally. The police investigating his murder have arrested several suspects.
“We offer our heartfelt condolences to Raghavendra Dube’s family and colleagues,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk. “The investigation into this barbaric murder must be thorough and transparent in order to shed light on all the circumstances and bring those responsible to justice.”
“We reiterate our appeal to the Indian authorities to establish a national plan for the protection of journalists and other news providers in order to ensure the safety of those who contribute to the public debate in Indian society.”
Dube’s murder appears to be linked to the previous evening’s attack on two other journalists,Mumbai Headlines reporter Santosh Mishra, 45, and Dabang Khabr reporter Shashi Sharma, 49.
They were covering a police raid on a Mumbai suburb bar called the White House when they were attacked by around ten of the bar’s employees for photographing its owner, Ganesh Kamath. Four police officers, including an inspector, looked on without intervening, they said. Both journalists were hospitalized with serious injuries.
Violence against journalists in India usually goes unpunished. Although an alarming number of journalists have been killed in connection with their coverage of corruption, politics, crime or other sensitive subjects, the government has yet to adopt any measures to protect media personnel.
This year’s two other media murder victims were Jagendra Singh, allegedly killed by police officers because of his coverage of illegal activities by certain Uttar Pradesh state officials, and Sandeep Kothari, who was murdered in connection with his coverage of organized crime in Madhya Pradesh.
Climate of violence
Many other media freedom violations, including physical attacks on journalists, continue to be reported.
Manashree Pathak, a 24-year-old reporter for Marathi-language TV station ABP Majha, was verbally harassed and then physically attacked by a group of men while covering a deadly fire in Mumbai on 16 July. Her cameraman, Narayan Parmar, and two other ABP Majha journalists,Sachin Gaad and Shrikant Sankpal, were also hit when they tried to defend her.
Katak TV reporter Satyajit Sen and his cameraman were beaten and their equipment was damaged by a railway security officer while they were covering a protest by the passengers of a train that had been delayed for several hours on 29 June.
Uttar Pradesh journalist Haider Khan was beaten unconscious and then dragged behind a motorcycle for a hundred metres on 13 June after writing about questionable land expropriations.
India’s journalists are favourite targets for all those opposed to freely and independently reported news and information. By repeatedly ignoring the need to protect journalists and by denying the current climate of violence, the federal government is just encouraging the enemies of media freedom.
India is ranked 136th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.