23 journalists attacked in the Northeast, 108 India-wide: Report

At least 23 journalists and media houses came under attack by miscreants in the three Northeast states of Tripura, Assam and Manipur in 2021.

Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) states this in its report titled – “India Press Freedom Report 2021”, which was released on Wednesday [February 2].

In its report, the RRAG has claimed that as many as six journalists were killed and 108 journalists and 13 media houses came under attack in India in 2021. 

The highest number of journalists/media organisations targeted was in Jammu and Kashmir (25), followed by Uttar Pradesh (23), Madhya Pradesh (16), Tripura (15), Delhi (8), Bihar (6), Assam (5), Haryana and Maharashtra (4 each), Goa and Manipur (3 each), Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal (2 each), and Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Kerala (1 each). 

Eight female journalists have also faced arrest, summons and registration of First Information Reports (FIRs).

“The widespread attacks on the press freedom from Jammu and Kashmir to Tripura are an indicator of continuing deterioration of civic space in the country. The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 is an affirmation of the government’s intent to crackdown on the media freedom.”- stated Suhas Chakma, Director of the RRAG.

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Chakma added: “The spotlight on attacks against media freedom during 2021 remained on Jammu and Kashmir. Out of the 17 journalists arrested in the country, J&K reported the highest cases of arrest/detention with five journalists; followed by Delhi (3); Maharashtra, Manipur and Tripura (2 each); and Assam, Chhattisgarh and Haryana (1 each).”

In 2021, FIRs against 44 journalists were also registered.

Uttar Pradesh reported the highest registration of FIRs with nine; followed by six each in Delhi and J&K; and three in Bihar; among others. 

Out of the 44 journalists, FIRs were filed against 21 journalists under Section 153 of the IPC relating to promoting enmity.

In 2021, at least 24 journalists were allegedly physically attacked, threatened, harassed and obstructed from doing their professional works by public officials including police across the country.

Out of the 24 journalists, 17 were allegedly beaten by police. Physical attacks on journalists by police were mainly reported from Jammu and Kashmir.

In 2021, the Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax Department raided offices of media houses/newspapers and houses of journalists who were critical of policies and functioning of the Government.  

The media houses and their officials raided included Newsclick in February, Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar in July and Newslaundry in September.

In 2021, out of the 121 journalists/media houses, at least 34 journalists/media houses faced attacks from the non-State actors, mainly political party activists, mafia and online trolls.

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Of these, six journalists were killed and at least 28 journalists/media houses were physically attacked or harassed/ threatened online. 

The maximum number of attacks by non-State actors took place in Tripura with attacks on 10 journalists and 5 (five) media houses followed by Uttar Pradesh (3) and Tamil Nadu (2).