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

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).

Modi becoming Prime Minister now appears to be an "accident" to the people of India

By Sandeep Pandey*
Anupam Kher's film 'Accidental Prime Minister' has targeted Dr Manmohan Singh who served for two terms and may be again acceptable for the job if his party regains power. But his tormentor Narendra Modi seems to be out of breath even before his first term is over. Disillusionment with him is so widespread and deep that people of India may not bear with him for another term. As the general elections approach again the difference between the two needs to be examined.