India drops 2 places, ranks 140 on World Press Freedom Index

World Press Freedom Index

India has been ranked 140th in the World Freedom Index 2019.

Published every year since 2002 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the World Press Freedom Index ranks 180 countries and regions according to the level of freedom available to journalists.

India’s rank was 138th last year, which has dropped two places showing deterioration in the freedom given to the press.

“Violence against journalists – including police violence, attacks by Maoist fighters, 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 says.

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“These murders highlighted the many dangers Indian journalists face, especially those working for non-English-language media outlets in rural areas. Attacks against journalists by supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi increased in the run-up to general elections in the spring of 2019,” it added.

“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. The mere threat of such a prosecution encourages self-censorship,” the report finds.

“Finally, coverage of regions that the authorities regard as sensitive, such as Kashmir, continues to be very difficult. Foreign reporters are barred from Kashmir and the Internet is often disconnected there. When not detained, Kashmiri journalists working for local media outlets are often the targets of violence by paramilitaries acting with the central government’s tacit consent,” it added.

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