India’s ranking in press freedom falls to 138, attack on journalists blamed

India’s ranking in press freedom falls to 138, attack on journalists blamed

New Delhi: According to annual report of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a watchdog, India’s ranking in the Press Freedom Index has fallen two notches to 138 in a ranking of 180 countries. The report has blamed “physical violence” against journalists like Gauri Lankesh as the key reason behind the country’s low ranking.

The RSF report has ranked Norway as the top on the list of having the world’s freest press for the second year in a row, while North Korea remained the most repressive country followed by Eritrea, Turkmenistan, Syria and then China.

The report warned that hate crime was another issue plaguing India.

“Hate speech is also an issue in the continent’s other giant, India, which has fallen another two places to 138th. Ever since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014, Hindu fundamentalists have been referring to journalists in extremely violent terms,” the report said.

“Any investigative reporting that annoys the ruling party or any criticism of Hindutva, elicits a torrent of online insults and calls for the death of the reporter or writer responsible, most of it coming from the Prime Minister’s troll army,” the report said.

The Reporters Without Borders cited the example of killing of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead outside her house in Bengaluru in September 2017.

The report said the physical violence against journalists was mainly responsible for India’s low ranking. “At least three journalists were killed with regard to their work. In rural areas the reporter risked their lives, though they were lowly paid,” added the report.

China’s ranking remained unchanged at 175th position for the second year.