New Delhi, April 26: India’s ranking in the Press Freedom Index has fallen two places to 138 in a ranking of 180 countries, according to the 2018 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
The watchdog blamed “physical violence” against journalists like Gauri Lankesh as the prime reason behind the country’s low ranking.
Norway clinched the top spot, while North Korea remained the most repressive country followed by Eritrea, Turkmenistan, Syria and then China.
“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,” news agency PTI quoted citing the report.
“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 RSF pointed the cold-blooded murder of journalist- activist Gauri Lankesh who was shot down outside her house in Bengaluru.
“The newspaper editor Gauri Lankesh was gunned down outside her home in September after being the target of hate speech and death threats for criticising Hindu supremacy, the caste system and discrimination against women,” the report said.
“The physical violence against journalists is largely responsible for India’s low ranking. At least three journalists were murdered in connection with their work. More were killed in circumstances that were unclear, as is often the case in rural areas, where reporters are poorly paid,” the watchdog observed.