India has dropped two places on a global press freedom index to be ranked 140th out of 180 countries in the annual Reporters Without Borders analysis, with the lead up to the ongoing Indian general elections flagged as a particularly dangerous time for journalists.
The ‘World Press Freedom Index 2019', topped by Norway, finds an increased sense of hostility towards journalists across the world, with violent attacks in India leading to at least six Indian journalists being killed last year.
“Violence against journalists — including police violence, attacks by Maoists and reprisals by criminal groups or corrupt politicians – is one of the most striking characteristics of the current state of press freedom in India. At least six Indian journalists were killed in connection with their work in 2018. A number of doubts surround a seventh case,” the index noted.
Attacks against journalists by supporters of ruling BJP increased in the run-up to general elections, the analysis alleged. Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres, or Reporters Without Borders, is a non-profit organisation that works to document and combat attacks on journalists around the world. In its 2019 index, RSF finds that hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear around the world. In reference to India, it found an alarming rate of “coordinated hate campaigns on social networks against journalists who dare to speak or write about subjects that annoy Hindutva”.