In 2002, we ranked #80 in the World Press Freedom index. After a steady decline, in 2013, India dropped off to #140 and stayed there till 2014. Two months into the year 2015, our ranks have improved and we are now at #136. Should we feel proud as a democratic society?
In just two months, the count of murdered journalists has reached 13. According to this, we shall have 78 murdered journalists by the end of this year and that’s definitely an improvement from last year (99 journalists were murdered in 2014). But, your focus should not be on the journalists that have been killed. Surprisingly, the number of journalists held captive by authority figures has jumped from 0 to 355 in just two months and that’s how much ‘Reporters without Borders’ have established so far. The real figure might be much higher.
In today’s age of 24*7 media coverage, the murder of a journalist always gets instant headlines and the authorities responsible face a heat that directly affects the voter’s mentality. National and international media starts digging up the story that the murdered journalist was working on. So, the goal to silence the media on a particular issue backfires and the story gets a greater highlight across the globe than it would have otherwise. On the other hand, if free rein is given to the media on broadcasting or writing the real scenario of any constituency, the authorities could get into a lot more trouble than what they are ready to deal with. So, what is the most effective means of silencing the media?
Our judicial system moves slower than a tortoise. If you can put a journalist in prison with any non-bailable charges, it’s going to be a long time before that person even gets a hearing date to plead not guilty, leave alone proving that he is innocent or trying to establish any wrong doings on the part of the authorities. Stating that one has been tortured in prison is one thing, and proving it is another thing all together. Whatever happens in prison stays in prison till we have a dead body to cry foul about. So, all one needs to do is to make sure that there are no marks on the body (easily achieved by strategic torturing tactics) and no dead people at the end of whatever is done. Even if one is not tortured, staying in prison for days with the criminals of society will definitely be a nerve-racking experience. One way or the other, most people will break.
Journalists are human beings with families to take care of. If they are terrorized, will they hold on to their honesty or will each one just turn into another subdued professional whose only requirement is a monthly salary?
Media is the voice of democracy and a constant threat to those in power. The newly implemented tactics to choke the voice of democracy is a scary truth and surprisingly there is no visible protest from the mass against it.
Imagine a world without the freedom of press; will you be safe in there?