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Crackdown on Journalists during this Lockdown

On July 22, Gammat Bhandari, an editor at a reputed Marathi newspaper was whisked away by a team of policemen and booked under the Indian Penal Code for writing a simple article on a policeman flouting lockdown rules. During his 30 years long career, in which he’s made his name based on writing articles criticising the powers at the helm, he has never felt more intimidated and chastened by the government.

However, he is just another victim in a long list of journalists being targeted by our government for voicing out their opinions and doing their job. The Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) stated in their report that 55 journalists have faced some form of threat - be it FIRs or physical intimidation in the months between March and May of this year.

Most of these journalists have been booked for reporting the shortcomings of the state authorities in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. The political and police nexus is in full throttle in many states to make sure that the discrepancies in the system stay hidden. The highest number of attacks on reporters has been in UP (11) who are followed by J&K (6).

These attacks on reporters by the people holding power has made sure that we will only see what they want us to see.

Such acts have been well-documented but actions against the perpetrators have not come to fruition. This has also led to India’s ratings in the Annual World Press Index 2020, which is put together by Reporters without Borders, to fall to the 142nd position among 180 countries. The message keeps getting stronger – criticise the government and face police action.

Reporter : Rishit Roy

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