Troops target journalists in Kashmir with India’s consent: RSF

Paris, April 26, 2018 (PPI-OT): Reporters Without Borders also known as Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), an international organization that defends freedom of the press across the globe, in its annual report said that coverage in Indian occupied Kashmir continues to be very difficult because Kashmiri journalists working for local media outlets are often targeted by soldiers at the behest of Indian government.

The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in its report while referring to the problems faced by journalists in occupied Kashmir said, “Foreign reporters are barred from the region and the Internet is often disconnected there. When not detained, Kashmiri journalists working for local media outlets are often the targets of violence by soldiers acting with the central government’s tacit consent.”

The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) also made a mention of India under the “Deadly threat from Modi’s nationalism” headline and warned that hate crime was another issue plaguing India. “Hate speech is also an issue in the continent’s other giant, India…. Ever since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014, Hindu fundamentalists have been referring to journalists in extremely violent terms,” the report said.

India’s ranking in the Press Freedom Index has further plunged to 138 in a ranking of 180 countries, the watchdog pointed out, saying that physical violence against journalists is the reason behind the country’s low ranking.

“Any investigative reporting that annoys the ruling party (BJP) or any criticism of Hindutva, elicits a torrent of online insults and calls for the death of the reporter or writer responsible, most of it coming from the Prime Minister’s troll army,” the report added. The RSF cited the case of the killing of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh who was shot down outside her house in Bengaluru in September last year.

“The newspaper editor, Gauri Lankesh, was gunned down outside her home in September after being the target of hate speech and death threats for criticising Hindu supremacy, the caste system and discrimination against women,” the report added.

Norway topped the list of having the world’s freest press for the second year in a row, the report said, adding that North Korea remained the most repressive country. The report says, “With Hindu nationalists trying to purge all manifestations of ‘anti-national’ thought from the national debate, self-censorship is growing in the mainstream media and journalists are increasingly the targets of online smear campaigns by the most radical nationalists, who vilify them and even threaten physical reprisals.”

“At least three of the journalists murdered in 2017 were targeted in connection with their work. They included the newspaper editor Gauri Lankesh, who had been the target of a hate campaign on social networks. Three other journalists were killed for their professional activity in March 2018. Prosecutions are also used to gag journalists who are overly critical of the government, with some prosecutors invoking Section 124a of the penal code, under which ‘sedition’ is punishable by life imprisonment.”

“No journalist has so far been convicted of sedition but the threat encourages self-censorship. Coverage of regions that the authorities regard as sensitive, such as Kashmir, continues to be very difficult. Foreign reporters are barred from the region and the Internet is often disconnected there. When not detained, Kashmiri journalists working for local media outlets are often the targets of violence by soldiers acting with the central government’s tacit consent,” the report added.

For more information, contact:
Kashmir Media Service
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