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Journalists at receiving end

Two journalists from Tripura have lost their lives this year. This is not a matter to be taken lightly by the press fraternity. The Editor’s Guild of India needs to do more than just condemn the murder. They need to seek justice for their colleagues by pushing the Union Home Ministry to take up the cases and not leave things to be handled by respective state governments. In September this year, Shantanu Bhowmik a television journalist was killed by a mob at a political rally allegedly in the presence of the state police. And now Sudip Datta Bhowmik, a senior reporter of Syandan Patrika was shot at by no less than a constable of the 2nd Tripura State Rifles (TSR) inside its headquarters. Apparently Bhowmik had written a series of reports on corruption cases involving a commander of the TSR. Considering that Tripura is headed for the polls in February- March next year, things are very fluid and it cannot be expected that the state police would take matters seriously and be completely objective in investigating these two criminal acts. The state police everywhere are suffering from a trust deficit and crisis of confidence. They have been used as political tools and have not shown the spine to stand up to their mandate of providing security to citizens. Across the country the police are being compromised. They now serve only the interests of the political class.

The press fraternity of India too needs to stand in solidarity with their colleagues in the North Eastern region where the death of journalists hardly makes news. There is a palpable attempt to throttle dissent in this country. Journalists who dare to speak up against the establishment are being eliminated and their killers are never arrested. We are yet to know who killed Gauri Lankesh and other journalists in the obscure rural outback. Clearly journalists are an abandoned community. They have been given a bad name and left to fend for themselves. Journalism is today the most dangerous profession. Is India worried about the slow demise of free speech? Or is there an attempt to curb freedom of speech? If India values a free press then the murderers of journalists need to be apprehended sooner than later.     

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