India ranks 142 on World Press Freedom Index; ‘dangerous’ country for journalists

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Hyderabad: India continues to be “bad” for journalism and is among the most dangerous places in the world for journalists, according to Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF), an international journalism not-for-profit body.

RSF ranked India 142 out of 180 on the World Press Freedom Index, for the second consecutive year.

The latest index released on Tuesday ranks 180 countries, topped yet again by Norway followed by Finland and Denmark, while Eritrea is at the bottom. China is ranked 177 and is only above North Korea at 179.

Among India’s neighbors, Nepal is at 106, Sri Lanka at 127, and Myanmar (before the military coup) is ranked at 140. Pakistan and Bangladesh secured 145 and 152 ranks on the index, respectively.

India shares the “bad” classification with Brazil, Mexico and Russia.

RSF noted that journalists in India are exposed to every kind of attack, including police violence against reporters, ambushes by political activists, and reprisals instigated by criminal groups or corrupt local officials.

The report says Bharatiya Janata Party supporters and the Hindutva ideology have created an environment of intimidation for journalists who are critical of the government by labeling them as “anti-national” or “anti-state”. 

“Criminal prosecutions are meanwhile often used to gag journalists critical of the authorities, with some prosecutors invoking Section 124a of the penal code, under which “sedition” is punishable by life imprisonment,” it said.

Further, RSF also noted the worrying situation in Kashmir and said reporters are often harassed by police and paramilitaries and must cope with “utterly Orwellian content regulations”. The report also invoked the closure of media outlets in the valley, as in the case with The Kashmir Times.