The government does not have data on how many journalists were murdered or attacked since 2014 as the National Crime Records Bureau does not compile data divided by professions. However, the government is in the process of collating this information. This is what Minister of State (independent charge) for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore told the Lok Sabha on Thursday, responding to a question by Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi.
Apart from the numbers on attacks on journalists, Trivedi had asked the I&B ministry if the government was aware of India’s rank of 138 in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index published by the international non-profit organisation Reports Without Borders. He had also questioned whether the Press Council of India (PCI) has “conducted any study to find out the reasons for the deteriorating press freedom index”.
In its response the I&B ministry said the government “has come across media reports” regarding the World Press Freedom Index. However, Rathore said that PCI “has raised its concern about the authenticity and credibility of the reports and the basis on which the ranking is done and also the methodology used to rank the nations”.
PCI is also in contact with the South Asian Office of Reporters Without Borders, the minister said, “to learn about their methodology to arrive at the ranking and had expressed its willingness” to share with them how it is “working to preserve the freedom of press”, but the international body did not respond.
At UNESCO’s conference in Jakarta in May 2017, PCI stated that the index “does not present all sides of the matter and most importantly when India does have an autonomous body for the protection and preservation of freedom of press, then at least Reporters Without Borders should have consulted such an organisation as part of good research”, Rathore said.