Since Adityanath assumed office as the BJP chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in 2017, a total of 12 journalists have been killed in the state, 48 physically assaulted, and 66 were booked under various charges or arrested. Twelve cases of intimidation, detention or spying have also been reported. In total, 138 cases of persecution of journalists were registered. This was stated in a report published by the Committee Against Assault on Journalists (CAAJ). In 2017, two journalists–Naveen Gupta of Hindustan newspaper in Kanpur’s Bilhaur, and Rajesh Mishra who was a Dainik Jagran journalist in Ghazipur–were shot dead. In 2020, a total of seven journalists–Rakesh Singh, Suraj Pandey, Uday Paswan, Ratan Singh, Vikram Joshi, Faraz Aslam and Shubham Mani Tripathi–were murdered.Rakesh Singh, associated with Rashtriya Swaroop, a local newspaper, was killed after his house was attacked and set on fire in Balrampur, allegedly for him exposing corruption. An Unnao-based journalist Shubham Mani Tripathi sought police protection after he received threats for exposing the sand mafia. However, he was shot dead before his request was addressed.Vikram Joshi was gunned down in broad daylight in Ghaziabad while TV journalist Ratan Singh was also shot dead in Ballia. Another journalist, Uday Paswan and his wife were beaten to death by gangsters in Sonbhadra’s Barwadih village. In Unnao, a journalist with a local English daily, Suraj Pandey, was found dead under suspicious circumstances on a railway track. While the police called it a suicide, the victim’s family alleged that it was murder. Srivastava, who exposed the corruption of the local liquor mafia in Pratapgarh, sought police protection before his murder. Instead of taking action, however, the police labelled the murder as an accident. The Editors’ Guild of India had also issued a statement regarding the matter, questioning the working of the UP Police. Meanwhile, during the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, journalist Raman Kashyap was killed. In 2022, journalist Sudhir Saini was allegedly beaten to death in broad daylight in Saharanpur. Santosh Jaiswal, a regional journalist based in Azamgarh, was arrested and imprisoned for exposing the matter of primary school students being forced to clean the school premises on September 7, 2019. A female Dalit journalist, Muskan Kumari, was stabbed in Lucknow in September 2021.The police kept harassing regional journalist, Pawan Jaiswal, for reporting on how school children were being served substandard food as mid-day meals, until the Press Council of India stepped in and took cognizance of the matter. The CAAJ report claims that most of the attacks on journalists and press freedom–including legal notices, FIRs, arrests, detention, espionage, threats and violence–have been instigated by the state and the administration.
The CAAJ report also mentions how correspondents of major news organisations like the BBC and The Hindu had to face litigation from the Uttar Pradesh government. Meanwhile, the Adityanath government also tried to implicate Delhi-based journalists–The Wire’s founding editor Siddharth Varadarajan, along with Mrinal Pandey, Rana Ayyub, Zafar Agha, Saba Naqvi, Vinod K. Jose, and Anant Nath–in various cases.
(Reproduced from The Wire dated 12-02-22)