13 environment journalists killed in India during Modi rule: RSF

Published April 19, 2024
PEOPLE wait to board a train at a railway station in Chennai for their hometowns on the eve of the first phase of voting for India’s general election.—AFP
PEOPLE wait to board a train at a railway station in Chennai for their hometowns on the eve of the first phase of voting for India’s general election.—AFP

NEW DELHI: Journalists investigating the exploitation of natural resources by the sand mafias or other networks involved in mining have been the victims of violent reprisals during the past 10 years, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) media watchdog said on Thursday.

Filing its report to coincide with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 10 years in office and on the eve of India’s five-yearly general elections starting today, RSF hoped to catch the eye of the candidates in the fray.

It said: “Nearly half of the 28 journalists killed in India since Narendra Modi took over as prime minister ten years ago, including media directors, investigative reporters and correspondents, were working on stories linked to the environment.”

India starts months-long seven-stage elections on Friday. RSF chose the time to state its case. “Protecting journalists and combating impunity for crimes of violence against them should be at the centre of the elections in which Modi is seeking another term.”.

At least 13 of the 28 journalists killed since 2014 were working on environmental-related subjects, mainly land seizures and illegal mining for industrial purposes. The report said several were killed for taking an interest in India’s so-called sand mafia, an organised crime network that excavates sand illegally for the country’s booming construction industry.

“Closely linked to politicians and often protected by them, the mafia is quick to silence journalists who take too close an interest in its activities, and does so with complete impunity,” RSF said.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2024

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