Pragjyotish Barta, Guwahati, 17 December 20ঃঃ The vibrant media fraternity of India sets to end a terrible year with the highest number of journo-killing incidents and second largest digit in the statistics of Covid-19 aggravated deaths (after Peru) around the world. India witnessed the murder & suspected killings of 14 journalists (compare to 86 global incidents) in 2020 till date to emerges as the most dangerous country for working journalists.
The pandemic year also witnessed the deaths of 53 journalists to Covid-19 in India where the global tally reaches 531 in 57 countries, revealed a Geneva based media watchdog Press Emblem Campaign (www.pressemblem.ch) adding that the south Asian nation thus entered into the club of most corona-affected countries with Peru (93 journo-deaths), Brazil (48), Ecuador (41), Bangladesh (40), Mexico (38), USA (27), Turkey (16), UK (12), Pakistan (12), etc.
“Over the year, over 600 journalists died as a result of the violence and the pandemic, a very heavy price, the worst since the Second World War. Since the beginning of March 2020, the PEC has started a corona-ticker to pay tribute to the journalists killed by the Covid-19 around the world,” said Blaise Lempen, general secretary of PEC adding that its figures may be higher than other concerned organizations as it considers all media workers killed, whether it is work-related or not.
In fact, it is difficult to determine the causes of death and to prove that a crime is related or not to the work of the journalist, for accounts can vary highly depending on the sources, in the absence of independent and full investigations. Hence the Geneva based media rights body advocates for creating an independent investigative mechanism within the framework of the United Nations to fill any gap that may exist at the national level in terms of prevention, protection and prosecution.
Lately the south Indian State of Kerala lost two journalists, one in a hit & run incident and another in corona-complications. Popular Malayalam journalist SV Pradeep (43) faced the incident on 14 December evening as a heavy vehicle him the scribe, as he was riding his two-wheeler in the city of Thiruvananthapuram. The police had however seized the vehicle and also arrested its driver who drove away from the spot after hitting the scribe, who remained critical to religious terrorism.
Meanwhile, D Vijayamohan, a celebrated Malayalam journalist passed away on 15 December while undergoing treatment for Covid-19 at a private hospital in New Delhi. Vijayamohan (65) used to work as a senior coordinating editor for Malayala Manorama from the national capital, said Nava Thakuria, the PEC’s country representative adding that he was closely preceded by Siliguri based journalist Mani Kumar Rai, who succumbed to corona-complications on 12 December.