At least 194 journalists across India targeted with arrests, threats, violence by state actors in 2022
State actors accounted for over 53 per cent of the total number of journalists who had been targeted, while in 2020, 50 per cent of journalists were targeted by non-state actors
At least 194 journalists, including seven women journalists, were targeted across India by state agencies, non-state political actors and criminals in 2022, according to the Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG), a Delhi-based think tank.
It has been found that state actors have emerged as the principal source of taking hostile steps against journalists in India in 2022. While 103 journalists were targeted by the state actors, 91 journalists were targeted by the non-state actors including political activists. Out of 103 journalists, 70 journalists were arrested/detained; 14 journalists against whom First Information Reports (FIRs) were registered; four journalists were summoned by police and Enforcement Directorate (ED); and 15 journalists were allegedly physically attacked, threatened and harassed by public officials/police including stopping from flying abroad by immigration officials.
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“Telangana reported the highest arrest/detention with 40; followed by Uttar Pradesh (6); Jammu and Kashmir (4); Madhya Pradesh (3), Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Manipur and Odisha (2 each); and Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and West Bengal (1 each),” said Suhas Chakma, Director of the RRAG. The figures have been collated from news reports.
Among the states/union territories (UTs), the journalists from Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) faced the maximum target with 48; followed by Telangana (40); Odisha (14); Uttar Pradesh (13); Delhi (12); West Bengal (11); Madhya Pradesh and Manipur (6 each); Assam and Maharashtra (5 each); Bihar, Karnataka and Punjab (4 each); Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Meghalaya (3 each); Arunachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu (2); and Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Puducherry, Rajasthan, Tripura and Uttarakhand (1 each).
First information reports (FIRs) were registered against 14 journalists, explained Chakma, under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including Sections 124-A (sedition) punishment for defamation (Section 500), 295A (acts intended to outrage religious feelings), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups); Section 66-C, Section 67 and Section 69 of the Information Technology Act and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
In 2022, at least four journalists were summoned for questioning – three by police i.e. Gowhar Geelani and Yash Raj Sharma of Jammu and Kashmir and Wangkhemcha Shamjai of Manipur and Sucheta Dalal of Maharashtra by the Enforcement Directorate in New Delhi.
In 2022, at least 15 journalists were allegedly physically attacked, molested, threatened and harassed by public officials including police across the country. Odisha reported the highest number of cases with four journalists being beaten by police.
At least three journalists — Aakash Hussain, Sanna Irshad Mattoo and Rana Ayyub — were stopped by the immigration officials from flying abroad.
The figures suggest a role reversal of sorts: in 2020, the state and non-state actors were almost locked in a tie although the overall numbers were higher, the same think-tank had found.
In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, as many as 226 instances of hostile action against journalists were reported. Out of these, non-state actors accounted for 114 instances and the state-actors targeted 112 journalists. But in 2022, the state actors accounted for over 53 per cent of the total number of journalists who had been targeted.
During 2022, out of the 91 journalists attacked by the non-state political actors and criminals across the country, the maximum attacks on journalists were reported from Odisha (5) and Uttar Pradesh (5).
Seven journalists were killed by non-state political actors and criminals. One journalist Subash Kumar Mahto was killed for his reporting while the rest were killed for personal enmities, road rage etc.
About 41 journalists were targeted by the armed opposition groups in Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur and the Naxal affected areas. One journalist identified as Rohit Biswal, a reporter of a daily Dharitri, was killed in an IED blast triggered by alleged Maoists while performing his official work on 5 February, read the statement.