Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore on Thursday told the Lok Sabha that the government has no data on how many journalists were murdered or attacked in the country since 2014 and the government now is in the process to assemble the same. Rathore said that National Crime Records Bureau does not compile data divided by professions. The minister was responding to a question by Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi.
According to a report by The Indian Express, Trivedi had also asked the ministry if the government was aware of India’s rank of 138 in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index. He had also questioned whether the Press Council of India (PCI) has “conducted any study to find out the reasons for the deteriorating press freedom index.”
Responding to this, the minister said that the ministry has come across media reports regarding the Index. However, Rathore said that PCI ‘has raised its concern about the authenticity and credibility of the reports and the basis on which the ranking is done and also the methodology used for ranking and PCI is in contact with the South Asian Office of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) to learn about their methodology to arrive at the ranking and had also expressed its willingness to share with them how it is working to preserve the freedom of press, but the international body did not respond.
World Press Index is published by the international non-profit organisation Reports Without Borders.
Recently in a report, RSF had said that as many as six journalists have been murdered this year in India and many others were the targets of murder attempts, physical attacks, and threats. In addition, the journalists witnessed hate campaigns against them, including incitement to murder, which is a common thing on social networks.
The report had said that the world’s five deadliest countries for scribes include three: India, Mexico, and for the first time the United States – where journalists were killed in cold blood even when these countries were not at war or in conflict.
According to the report, Afghanistan continued at the top slot with a total of 15 journalists killed in the violent attacks and is the world’s deadliest country for journalists and media workers in 2018.