New Delhi, May 2: Press freedom in India has deteriorated in 2018 and three journalists have been killed in the first four months, media watchdog The Hoot said, stating that “journalists continue to be vulnerable”. The number of killings documented by the Hoot report for the first four months was the same as in the whole of 2017. “They were killed in connection with their reporting, judging by what initial investigations show,” it said.
India ranks 138th among 180 countries on this year’s World Press Freedom Index, published by Reporters Without Borders. India’s rank was 136th in 2017 and 133rd in 2016. The number of documented attacks on journalists and media workers across the country during the period was 13. It includes three in West Bengal. In 2017, documented attacks stood at 46. Apart from these, there were defamation cases that came to trial. A sedition case was filed against a journalist. There was also a clear push by both the State, Centre and the judiciary — through regulatory policy as well as judicial orders — to curb free speech, The Hoot said. “Media freedom continued to deteriorate in the first four months of 2018 in India,” said the non-profit watchdog. “There were also around 50 instances of censorship and more than 20 instances of suspension of Internet services as well as the taking down of online content,” it added. All three journalists killed in the January-April period were mowed down by vehicles.