THE assassination of Jyotirmoy Dey, editor, Special Investigation, Midday has naturally roused the anger of the media. Journalists in Mumbai assembled in large numbers to express their feelings and more importantly to demand that justice be done. They even took out a large procession from Patrakar Sangh in Mumbai to Mantralaya to press their demands, though The Free Press Journal ( June 12) felt free to say that “media pleas for security usually fall on deaf ears”. Many in the profession suspect that there are police links with the underworld. Dey had apparently given a report to the Maharashtra Home Minister about some police officials who had links with the underworld but the paper quoted a senior journalist, Jatin Desai, as saying that “nothing happened”. It would seem that in the last two years alone, 125 journalists have been threatened and in some case been actually attacked in Maharashtra.
The Patrakar Halla Virodhi Kruti Samiti (Action Committee against attacks on Journalists) meanwhile has demanded that Maharashtra’s Home Minister RR Patil and Mumbai’s Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik should resign. The Free Press Journal quoted another journalist, Shashikant Sandbhor President, Television Journalists Association as saying that “with the murder of Dey, it has been proven that police-underworld nexus exists in the city”. The New Indian Express (June 13) while demanding that Dey’s killers should be brought to book pointed out that “the manner in which Dey was bumped off in a posh locality raises fears of the return of the mafia raj in the metropolis”. The paper called for “laws, howsoever, imperfect they may be” to protect whistle-blowers. It reminded readers how over a decade ago, Kamala Saikia, a well-known journalist in Assam was kidnapped and killed, allegedly by the ULFA militants and the murderers have still not been arrested. The Hindu (June 14) pointed out that Dey is not the first journalist to be shot dead in India this year and reminded everyone that in 2011 alone there have been 14 instances of attacks on journalists, including the killing of Umesh Rajput of Nai Duniya on January 23 and of Sushil Pathak of Dainik Bhaskar in Bilaspur on December 20, 2010. “Journalists and media-houses have been attacked with impunity and since 1990s, cases have been dragged on forever without any conviction” said The Hindu. Significantly it added: “The underworld in the city now is complemented by a powerful builders’ lobby which allegedly has a measure of political and official patronage… The State should conduct a transparent and speedy investigation into Dey’s murder and belying its dismal track record, demonstrate that at least now, it means business”.
Attacks on journalists is not just an Indian phenomenon. Hindustan Times reported on June 16 that in Nepal, one Kailasnath Dhakal, writing for Nagarik was attacked early in June by members of the Youth Wing of the Communist Party of Nepal. This, said the paper, was not uncommon for Nepal, which ranks in a list of thirteen countries where “journalists are slain and killers go free”. India Today (June 27) carried a full report on the overlords of the Mumbai underworld. It is one of the most damning indictment of the government. Investigative journalism, in any event, is a dangerous profession and it is incumbent on the government to provide the fullest security to such journalists. Hardly not a single assassin of journalists in recent times has been apprehended, tried and sentenced. It is shocking.
Incidentally, according to The Economic Times (June 22), in India, a whopping 88 per cent of frauds are not communicated while enforcement action is initiated in one quarter of cases and disciplinary action is taken only in 25 per cent of investigated cases. According to the global consultancy KPMG, company board members and those working within the Chief Executive or Managing Director’s office are increasingly committing more fraud and when they blow up, it is typically several years down the line when the value “of the deception has multiplied and all the warning signs have missed”.
Meanwhile there is some good news for the media. The Congress Party is relaunching National Herald. The paper was closed on April 1, 2008 (All Fools Day) but it is now being resuscitated, according to Deccan Herald (May 6). The paper was launched seventy years ago by Jawaharlal Nehru who often contributed to it anonymously. Its editor, M Chalapathi Rao (MC as he was popularly known) was distinguished for his writing and a certain sense of objectivity, which, of course, Nehru appreciated. With MC’s passing away the paper lost much of its luster. The Congress apparently also wants to publish – again, relaunch—the Urdu edition of the paper Qaumi Awaz, no doubt to appeal to the Muslim electorate.
Meanwhile, two other newspapers are also in the works. The Hans India, belonging to the HMTV Telugu news channel will be inaugurated by Anna Hazare on July 15, 2011 and will be published from Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Vishakapattanam, Warangal and Tirupati simultaneously, with K Ramchandra Murthy as editor-in-chief. India’s Number One media group, Bhaskar, co-promoters of DNA has already launched its first Marathi daily Divya Marathi in Aurangabad. This is the Group’s 60th edition across the country which makes it a new record worthy of being mentioned in the Guiness Book of World Records. DNA, incidentally is now India’s sixth largest English daily crossing yet another milestone as it approaches its sixth birthday. It is reportedly India’s fastest growing English daily with now an average issue readership of 8.22 lakh. DNA’s growth rate is judged at 85 per cent while that of The Times of India is 7 per cent and of Hindustan Times 5 per cent.