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Nava Thakuria,Assam,Guwahati Correspondent.

Goodbye, a terrible year 2020 by: Nava Thakuria

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2nd Jan 2020 | Get In Lamka
Goodbye, a terrible year 2020
by Nava Thakuria.
India as a whole bids adieu to a terrible year shattered by the
Covid-19 pandemic where its  media  fraternity lost 15 scribes to
assailants and over 50 media persons to the novel corona virus
aggravated ailments within 2020. The statistics of journo-killings in
a year has already put the largest democracy of the globe in the list
of dangerous countries for working journalists.
India along with Mexico emerged as the hazardous places for scribes as
the global tally of media-victims to assailants reached to 92 in 31
countries, stated Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), the Geneva based media
watchdog in a recent report. Mexico, as it routinely witnesses
journo-murders for several years now, repeated the trend with murders
of 12 scribes in 2020 followed by Pakistan (8 dead), Afghanistan (7),
Iraq & Honduras (5 each), etc.
The international journo-rights body also added that the Philippines
and Syria witnessed murders of four scribes each, followed  by Nigeria
& Venezuela (three scribes each), Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala,
Liberia, Somalia, (two each), Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Egypt,
Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Russia, Argentina, Cameroon, Ecuador,
Mozambique, Paraguay, Sweden, Barbados, etc (one each).
“Fewer journalists  died in areas of armed conflict this year, but too
many of them have been targeted for their works in peaceful
countries,” commented Blaise Lempen, general secretary of PEC
(www.pressemblem.ch) reiterating the forum’s stand on condemnations
against those incidents of scribe-killings and consistent  demands to
punish the culprits under the law. He also added that PEC figures are
higher than others as it considers all media persons killed, whether
it is work-related or not.
Meanwhile, over 600 journalists  died of Covid-19 complications in 59
countries till  31 December, where most affected countries include
Peru (93 casualties), India (53), Brazil (52), Mexico (45), Ecuador
(42), Bangladesh (41), Italy (34), USA (31), Pakistan (22), Turkey
(17), UK (12), etc and thus a single year snatched away the lives of
nearly 700 journalists with the pandemic and violence, stated Lempen
pointing out that it is the worst statistics since the Second World
War.
India witnessed the latest killing of a video journalist in Rajasthan
as Abhishek Soni (27) succumbed to injuries because of attacks by
three assailants.  Soni, who used to work for a local news channel,
went to a roadside eatery along with a women media employee on 8
December evening. As they were waiting the assailants started starring
at her. When Soni resisted them, it ended up in hot debates and
physical attacked by them. Finally  Soni died in a Jaipur hospital on
23 December.
Earlier, a Malayalam journalist lost his life in a hit & run incident
on 14 December evening  inside Thiruvananthapuram city. SV Pradeep
(43), who remained critical over the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in
the Communist party ruled Kerala, worked for media outlets like News
18, Jai Hind, Mediaone, Mangalam, Kairali, etc.
Days before, sad news broke from Uttar Pradesh (UP), where journalist
Rakesh Singh Nirbhik (35) was found dead along with a friend on 28
November as his house in Balrampur locality was hit by a sudden
explosion. Severely injured Rakesh  and his friend were taken to the
hospital, where both succumbed to burn injuries. Victim families
claimed  it as a pre-planned murder as Rakesh developed enmities
against some locals with his media reports in Rashtriya Swaroop.
Andhra Pradesh (AP) journalist G Nagaraj (45) was killed by a group of
goons at Hanumantha area adjacent to Tamil Nadu. The Telugu reporter
was attacked with sharp weapons in full public view on 22 November and
he died on his way to the hospital. Nagaraj wrote a series of articles
against the real-estate mafia for  Tamil newspaper Villangam to invite
probable enmities.
UP’s Sonbhadra locality witnessed the murder of rural reporter Uday
Paswan along with his wife on 16 November.  Associated with a
Lucknow-based Hindi daily, Paswan  died on the spot as they were
attacked by a group of goons. His wife Sheetla Paswan succumbed to
injuries next day in the hospital. Another UP scribe Suraj Pandey (25)
was found dead on a railway track at Sadar Kotwail area on 12
November. His family members in Unnao locality claimed that the Hindi
reporter was murdered.
Bhopal  based television reporter Syed Adil Wahab (35) was found
murdered at a forest area on 8 November. Wahab, who used to work for a
Hindi news channel  went missing since the previous day and later his
injured body was recovered by the police. Tamil television scribe
Isravel Moses (27) was hacked to death by a group of anti-social
elements in  Kancheepuram on the same day.
Assam’s Kakopathar based television journalist Parag Bhuyan (55) died
in a mysterious road accident on 11 November night. The government
also already ordered a CID probe into the incident and the police have
seized the vehicle that hit Bhuyan and arrested its driver & handyman.
Another UP journalist  Ratan Singh (45), who worked for satellite news
channel Sahara Samay was shot dead  by his neighbours in Ballia
locality on 24 August. Tinsukia based Assamese television scribe
Bijendeep Tanti (32) was found  murdered  on 8 August at his rented
office.
Weeks back, Madhya Pradesh journalist Sunil Tiwari (35), who worked
for a Gwalior-based Hindi newspaper was beaten, stabbed and shot to
death in Niwari locality  on 22 July. Same day, UP journalist  Vikram
Joshi (45) succumbed to  injuries in the hospital who was attacked on
20 July  by some local goons. Another AP journalist named Ganta Naveen
(27) was murdered at Nandigama locality on 29 June. The digital
channel reporter developed enmity with some influential persons in his
locality and they are suspected to organize the crime.
The brutal murder of  UP’s young and brave reporter Shubham Mani
Tripathi  shocked the media fraternity. Shubham (25) continued
reporting against illegal sand miners to Kanpur-based Hindi daily
Kampu Mail even after receiving death-threats from the criminals. He
was shot dead in  Unnao locality on 19 June by two shooters. Orissa’s
portal reporter Aditya Kumar Ransingh (40) was killed on 16 February
in Banki locality.
Last year, India witnessed nine incidents of journo-killings, but only
one case emerged as a targeted murder for works as journalist. K
Satyanarayana (45) of Andhra Jyothy was hacked to death on 15 October.
Local scribes informed Satyanarayana was targeted in earlier too.
Others who were killed last year include Jobanpreet Singh,Vijay Gupta,
Radheyshyam Sharma, Ashish Dhiman, Chakresh Jain, Anand Narayan and
Nityanand Pandey. Kerala scribe K Muhammed Basheer was mowed down by a
vehicle.
Various local, regional and national journo-bodies in India along with
a number of international media rights bodies like the Committee to
Protect Journalists, Reporters sans/without Borders, International
Federation of Journalists, besides the PEC, denounced the murders of
scribes and urged the Union government in New Delhi to book the
assailants under the law ensuring justice to the victim-families.
The author is a northeast India based journalist and country contributor to PEC

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