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Press Freedom in India

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    8th Oct, 2019

Journalists in Kashmir staged a silent demonstration in Srinagar to protest the ongoing communication blockade in Kashmir. Both national and international media highlighted the increased restrictions on media in Kashmir after August 5th.

Context

Journalists in Kashmir staged a silent demonstration in Srinagar to protest the ongoing communication blockade in Kashmir. Both national and international media highlighted the increased restrictions on media in Kashmir after August 5th.

About

  • After the scrapping of Special Status and re-organisation of Jammu and Kashmir, it is being reported in certain sections of media that Journalists are facing increased curbs to perform their professional duties.
  • Anuradha Bhasin, editor of Kashmir Times, local English daily filed a petition in Supreme Court challenging the restrictions on Media in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • New Delhi amended Article 370 of the Indian constitution and bifurcated the state into two union territories on August 5. The move stripped J&K of its separate flag and constitution. Fearing reprisals, the authorities imposed strict restrictions and a communication blockade across the Valley. Though restrictions were eased last month, the communication blockade is still in force.
  • Facing criticism, the government set up a make-shift media communication centre at a private hotel in Srinagar for journalists.
  • The centre has one internet connection and nine terminals where journalists working with international, national and local media houses have to wait in a queue for their turn to send reports and check mails.
  • The information department managing the centre has allotted 15 minutes for each journalist to access the internet.
  • India has dropped two places on a global press freedom index -2019 to be ranked 140th out of 180 countries brought about by Reporters Without Borders.
  • The World Press Freedom Index 2019 finds an increased sense of hostility towards journalists across the world.
  • The violent attacks in India leading to at least six Indian journalists being killed in the line of their work in 2018
  • Violence against journalists including police violence, attacks by Maoist fighters and reprisals by criminal groups or corrupt politicians is one of the most striking characteristics of the current state of press freedom in India.
  • Indian journalists, especially those working for non-English-language media outlets in rural areas, face threats to their lives on daily basis.
  • South Asia in general features poorly on the index.
  • Pakistan and Bangladesh rank below India at 142 and 150 respectively.
  • The number of countries regarded as safe, where journalists can work in complete security, continues to decline, while authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their grip on the media, RSF concludes.
  • Norway is ranked first in the 2019 Index for the third year running while Finland has taken second place. An increase in cyber-harassment caused Sweden (third) to lose one place.

Reports Without Borders

  • Founded in 1985
  • Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF), or Reporters Without Borders, is a non-profit organisation that works to document and combat attacks on journalists around the world.
  • Reporters without Borders has two primary spheres of activity: one is focused on Internet censorship and the new media, and the other on providing material, financial and psychological assistance to journalists assigned to dangerous areas.
  • In its 2019 index, RSF finds that hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear around the world.

 Conclusion

Media is an important pillar of democracy. Any effort to restrict the freedom and independence of journalists would amount to shaking the foundation of democracy. No doubt security of the nation is of prime importance and can be the infused as a reasonable restriction in the freedoms enjoyed by media. But it is the duty of the courts to determine whether the restriction is fair, just and reasonable.

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