At least six journalists were killed and 121 journalists and media houses were targeted in India in 2021, according to the released by the today.
Laws “mostly invoked” against these journalists and media houses in 2021 included penal sections related to sedition, intent to cause riot, and promoting enmity, and charges under the UAPA and IT Act. At least 34 faced attacks from non-state actors, mainly political party activists, mafia and online trolls.
The Delhi-based think tank noted that the highest number of journalists and media houses targeted was in Jammu & Kashmir (25), followed by Uttar Pradesh (23), Madhya Pradesh (16), and Tripura. There were eight cases in Delhi, six in Bihar, five in Assam, four each in Haryana and Maharashtra, three each in Goa and Manipur, two each in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Kerala.
The report said eight female journalists faced arrest, summons and registration of FIRs. Six journalists were killed, and at least 28 journalists/media houses were “physically attacked or harassed/ threatened online”.
Additionally, the report said 44 FIRs were registered against journalists last year, including multiple FIRs against the same journalist in multiple states.
“Out of the 44 journalists, FIRs were filed against 21 journalists under Section 153 of the IPC relating to promoting enmity,” the report said. Nine FIRs were registered in Uttar Pradesh, six each in Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir, and three in Bihar.
At least 24 journalists were “allegedly attacked physically, threatened, harassed and obstructed from doing their professional works by public officials, including police”. Seventeen of these journalists were “allegedly beaten by police”, with the highest of these cases being reported from Jammu & Kashmir.
The report also took cognisance of raids conducted by the Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax department on offices of media houses and newspapers, and homes of journalists “critical of policies and functioning of the government”. It cited the raids conducted at the offices of Newsclick in February, Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar in July, and Newslaundry in September.
The report also singled out the new IT rules, stating they “fundamentally alter how publishers of news operate over the internet and have the potential to seriously undermine media freedom in India”, since various provisions “place unreasonable restrictions on digital news media and consequently media at large”.