"I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks."
As many as 55 journalists have been targeted for covering the pandemic in India between March and May 31, revealed a Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) report released on Monday, June 15.
The report said that journalists faced arrest, registration of FIRs, summons or show-cause notices, physical assaults, alleged destruction of properties and threats for doing their job.
The RRAG conducts risk analysis to prevent violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, focusing on threats to the rule of law and democracy. Further, it provides an analysis of state and non-state policies, and also warnings on impending conflicts.
Uttar Pradesh leads the list with the maximum number of attacks on media persons (11 cases), followed by six in Jammu and Kashmir, five in Himachal Pradesh, four each in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Odisha and Maharashtra, two each in Punjab, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala, and one each in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Nagaland and Telangana, The Print reported.
Jai Singh Chibber of Punjabi Jagran was booked by the Punjab Police for writing a news report about an unnamed Congress minister, reported Deccan Herald.
In another instance, an FIR was filed against thewire.in editor Siddharth Varadarajan for his website reporting about Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath attending a public religious event in Ayodhya on March 25, after the lockdown was announced.
"India has become the riskiest place for journalists in the world. The government of India, from the outset of the pandemic, sought to suppress press freedom under the garb of deliberate or inaccurate reporting on Covid-19," said Suhas Chakma, director, RRAG.
"Even though on 31.03.2020, the Supreme Court refused to interfere with the free discussion about the pandemic, the repression on the journalists who acted as messengers by risking their lives to convey the news of various mismanagement, deficiencies, corruption, the hunger of the migrant workers/impoverished citizens, lack of adequate PPE for doctors at hospitals etc began in earnest," he added.
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