Skip to main content

Impunity shrouds murder of 14 Indian journalists since 2010: Free Speech Tracker

A protester holds Gauri Lankesh's photograph
Counterview Desk
The Free Speech Collective, an initiative of journalists, activists and lawyers of India to protect the right to freedom of expression and “vigorously promote free speech and the right to dissent”, in its Free Speech Impunity Indicator, has tracked the status of investigation in the murder of journalists in India, and found that only in one of 14 cases since 2010 there has been some movement towards delivering justice.
A short report, released by the collective on occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, which falls on November 2:
Two journalists in India were killed in separate incidents barely two days before the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on November 2, 2018. Their deaths take the figure to six this year but even as the number of killings of journalists in India continues to spiral, the rate of conviction remains constant: Zero.
On Oct 30, 2018, a Doordarshan cameraperson, Achutuynanda Sahu, was killed along with two police personnel in a skirmish between the police and an armed Maoist group near Neelavaya village in Dantewada of Bastar district, Chhattisgarh. A reporter Dhiraj Kumar, who escaped after he rolled into a ditch, said that Sahu was riding pillion on a bike behind a jawan. Kumar was on another bike. They were heading to report on a polling station set up in the village for the forthcoming State Assembly elections.
On the same day, Chandan Tiwary, a journalist working for ‘Aaj” a Hindi daily in Chatra district of Jharkhand was abducted and allegedly beaten to death by unidentified persons. On April 6, this year, he had lodged a complaint with police about threats to his life:“Following an expose on irregularities in the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, I’ve been threatened with dire consequences by Mahesh Dangi, husband of the local mukhiya…I fear a threat to my life from Mahesh Dangi…”
Achutuynanda Sahu
But no investigation followed, much less any protection for him. Now, police have announced that a Special Investigation Team will be set up to probe his death.
A Free Speech Impunity Indicator (see here) put together by Free Speech Collective, an initiative of journalists, lawyers and human rights activists to monitor freedom of expression in India, tracks the status of investigation in each case. It is also a grim reminder of the tortuous, but dogged, resistance to the silencing of free speech, put up by families, friends and colleagues.
In this, the first of our Impunity Indicator reports, we examine the deaths of six journalists to determine how impunity works in each death. Impunity hounds then, even though each of these journalists killed may have been separated by geography or even the passage of time. We track the status of the investigation into their deaths and determine and the extent of impunity that shrouds their deaths and exactly how far their families and colleagues are from justice and closure.We bear witness to their work, their courage and commitment to uncover the truth, in order to ensure that their killings do not remain mere statistics.
A study of the 30 journalist’ killings in India from 2010, tracked by the mediawatch site, "The Hoot", revealed that there have been arrests in 14 cases, a conviction in one and a closure in one case with no arrests made. In the remaining 14, there has been not even an arrest so far.
Free Speech Impunity Indicator
0. No investigation
1.Investigation; no arrests
2. Investigation; Arrests; Main accused absconding/not charged/released on bail
3. Charge-sheet filed; Trial
4. Judgement: Acquittal
5. Judgement: Conviction
The Impunity Indicator tracks investigation from ground zero (No investigation) to Level 5, where investigations resulted in a trail and a conviction.
We examine the deaths of four journalists in the first half of 2018: Sandeep Sharma, Naveen Nischal and Vijay Singh and Shujaat Bukhari. In March, three journalists – Sandeep Sharma, Naveen Nischal and Vijay Singh – were killed in a gruesome fashion in what were seemingly hit-n-run cases. In June, Shujaat Bukhari, the editor of the Rising Kashmir, was shot dead by two unidentified persons on a bike.
We review the status of investigation of the killing of Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru, Karnataka, on September 5, 2017.
We map the status of the case against the accused, Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim and his associates, in the killing of Ram Chandra Chhatrapati, 17 years ago.
In all these instances, there has been no conviction. A trial in the case of Ram Chandra Chhattrapati is awaiting judgement.
Here is the Impunity Indicator for each of these instances examined by the Free Speech Collective:
  • Sandeep Sharma: Impunity Indicator 2 
  • Navin Nischal, Vijay Singh : Impunity Indicator 2 
  • Shujaat Bukhari : Impunity Indicator 2 
  • Gauri Lankesh : Impunity Indicator: 2
  • Ram Chander Chhattarpati: Impunity Indicator: 3 
In other words, only one case has gone to trial…for the last 17 years. In three cases, the accused are either not arrested, or the main accused are absconding or are arrested but out on bail. In one instance, the main accused have been arrested.

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

How GMOs would destroy non-GMO crops: Aruna Rodrigues' key submissions in SC

Counterview Desk The introduction of Bt and HT crops will harm the health of 1 billion Indians and their animals, believes Aruna Rodrigues, who has made some 60 submissions to the Supreme Court (SC) during the last 20 years. As lead petitioner who filed Public Interest Litigation in 2005, during a spate of intense hearings, which ended on 18 January 2024, she fought in the Apex Court to prevent the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indian agriculture. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Corporatizing Indian agriculture 'to enhance' farmer efficiency, market competitiveness

By Shashank Shukla*  Today, amidst the ongoing farmers' protest, one of the key demands raised is for India to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). Let us delve into the feasibility of such a move and explore its historical context within India's globalization trajectory.

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Interpreting UAPA bail provisions: Is Supreme Court setting the clock back?

By Kavita Srivastava*, Dr V Suresh** The Supreme Court in its ruling on 7th February, 2024 in   `Gurvinder Singh v State of Punjab’ held that its own well-developed jurisprudence that "Bail is the rule and jail the exception" will not apply to those charged under the UAPA.

A 'distorted narrative' of Indian politics: Congress failing to look beyond LS polls

By Prem Singh*  About 15 days ago, I told a senior journalist friend that there are not even two   months left for the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi is roaming around on a delectation (tafreeh). The friend probably found my comment exasperating and replied that he is not on a delectation trip. The conversation between us on this topic ended there. 

Livelihood issues return to national agenda ahead of LS polls: SKM on Bharat Bandh

Counterview Desk  Top farmers' network, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has claimed big success of Grameen Bharat Bandh and industrial /sectoral strikes, stating, the “struggle reflected anger of farmers, workers and rural people across India”, adding, the move on February 16 succeeded in bringing back peoples’ livelihood issues in the national agenda just ahead of the general election to the Lok Sabha.