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

Why do I lend my support to voices protesting world class renovation of Gandhi Ashram?

By Martin Macwan* One would not expect an activist working on Dalit rights to join such a protest. Dalits carry unhealed trauma that Gandhi caused to Dr BR Ambedkar and the Dalit cause of effective political representation by using violent means of his own definition in the event of the Poona Pact. This apart, Gandhi’s ideas in general, which changed often, on caste were orthodox. I have nothing to add to the subject after the sharpest critique offered by Dr Ambedkar.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Inaccurate gender-relevant data 'spoiling' government policy on Covid social impact

By Simi Mehta*  The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been different across vulnerable groups. They were hit by the pandemic at various stages, whether it was accessibility to medical treatment or financial support. The second wave witnessed human suffering at a level where one can never forget the traumatized faces of people due to the inaccessibility and unavailability of essential medical services such as hospitals beds and oxygen. The probability of the third wave has also been one of the major upcoming challenges.

Flamboyant 'demagogues' adjust politics, personality in shadow of democracy

Modi, Erdogan, Bolsonaro By Ajit Singh The terms dictators and demagogues are used interchangeably in various contexts, but there is a difference. The former rule over a totalitarian states where governments are able to exercise complete influence over every aspect of citizens’ life, whereas the latter are a "wannabe dictators" but due to the system of checks and balances they are are not fully capable to create police states.

Vindictive raids? Centre 'retaliates' after Delhi govt child rights body's clean chit to ex-babu

By Our Representative  Over 700 academics, advocates, activists, civil servants, writers, film makers, journalists, musicians and artists have condemned the raids by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the offices and private home of top IAS bureaucrat-turned-human rights and peace activist Harsh Mander, stating, the aim is nothing but to “harass and intimidate” him.

Protests break out as school going children 'branded Naxalites, taken prisoners'

By Sheshu Babu* Conditions in all spheres of life is going from bad to worse. On September 13, Political Prisoners' Day was observed. On that day, Jatin Das, friend of Bhagat Singh and member of the Hindustan Republican Socialist Association, passed away after 63 days of hunger strike. He demanded 'political prisoners' status to those who have been jailed by the state.

Celebrating birthday amidst image of 'coerced, submissive' India ruled by a strong leader

Pushkar Raj*  As the weeks long birthday festivity of the leadership was being rejoiced India wide, the Covid was still raging in several parts of India. The carnival was in line with the post-Covid decisions and actions of the leadership demonstrating a pursuit of personal power and glory instead of national interest in times of disease and death.

Catholic women warn: Kerala Bishop turning Church into puppet in political games

Counterview Desk A group of Catholic women under the banner Concerned Catholic Women of India has said that they are deeply concerned over "a bishop’s controversial statement" which may threaten communal harmony in India. As many as 89 Catholic women from across India have urged the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and its Kerala unit to take special steps to "foster peace and avoid strife."

No space for 2 lakh waste pickers in Delhi masterplan for next two decades: Study

By Our Representative  A new survey report prepared by the NGO Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group on the challenges faced by waste pickers in managing solid waste in Delhi, “Space for Waste - 2021”, has regretted that currently, there is no provision of workspace for waste workers, hence they carry out their work of segregation, repairing, and composting at different locations.