The cold-blooded murder of noted journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru on Tuesday evening is not an isolated incident and serves as a stark reminder of how journalists in India and elsewhere have been eliminated for doing their work.
Gauri Lankesh is the 13th Indian journalist to be killed in less than three years.
Known for her staunch criticism of right-wing groups including the RSS, Gauri had pointed fingers at them for allegedly creating communal tension in Karnataka and elsewhere. She was even convicted of defaming BJP leaders in the state in two separate cases, by the lower courts.
Gauri is the second Indian journalist to be killed in 2017 after Indore-based Kamlesh Jain. Kamlesh was also shot dead in May by gunmen who came on a motorcycle. The 42-year-old scribe was working for Hindi language newspaper Nai Dunia.
The International Federation of Journalists in its report said that among 122 journalists killed across the globe in 2016, five were from India. India was the eighth worst country in the list in terms of number of scribes murdered, alongside neighbours Pakistan.
The situation in India with regards to work conditions for journalists is worsening as suggested by the World Press Freedom Index compiled by global media watchdogâ€”Reporters Without Borders.
In 2017, India fell three places from its rank a year earlier, to 136 among 180 nations.
A chilling fact is that only 4% of the murder cases involving journalists get solved, according to the CPJ impunity indexâ€” maintained by Committee for the Protection Of Journalists.
Indian media watchdog, The Hoot reported that there have been 54 reported attacks on journalists in India in the period between January 2016 and April 2017 alone.
Other than journalists, vocal critics of the government, including activists or rationalists like MM Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare have been killed in the last few years.
The five journalists who were killed in 2016 are as follows:
Karun Mishra, Bureau Chief of Jan Sandesh Times
Mishra was shot on February 13, 2016 at UPâ€™s Sultanpur by two unidentified men who came on a bike as he was heading towards his home district. He was declared dead when he was brought to the hospital. Reports suggest that he was killed for reporting on illegal soil mining.
Rajdeo Ranjan, Bureau Chief of Dainik Hindustan
The senior journalist was shot dead in Siwan town in Bihar on May 13, 2016. He was well known for covering local politics and crime and especially for his reports on Lalu Prasad Yadav-aide former local MP Mohammad Shahabuddin.
Kishore Dave, Bureau Chief of Jai Hind
On August 23, 2016, a senior journalist Kishore Dave, was found dead, lying in a pool of blood in his office.
He was the bureau chief of a Gujarati newspaper called â€˜Jai Hindâ€™ in Junagadh and was stabbed repeatedly in the chest around 9pm, according to police sources.
Dharmendra Singh, Correspondent of Dainik Bhaskar
Dharmendra Singh, who was a journalist with the Hindi newspaper Dainik Bhaskar, was shot dead by unidentified men in Biharâ€™s Rohtas district in the early hours on November 12, 2016.
Three bike-borne attackers opened fire on him and sprayed him with bullets, while he was standing at a tea stall near his house.
Indradev Yadav, Journalist with Taaza TV
He was a stringer for the TV Channel in the Naxal-prone Chatra district of Jharkhand. Also known as Akhilesh Pratap Singh or AP Singh, he was shot dead by unidentified men near Devaria panchayat secretariat. According to reports, police could not find a motive for the killing.