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India’s Rank in World Press Freedom Index Drops to 140 in 2019, Report Points Out Hindutva and Nationalism Agendas

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India in world press freedom index 2019 report 2

The 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has been released today. As a matter of huge concern in the list of 180 countries surveyed, India has dropped down to 140th position from last year’s 138.  Norway was ranked at number one.

India has been placed close to Pakistan at 142, and Bangladesh at 150.

The overall findings showed hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear. The number of countries regarded as safe, where journalists can work in complete security, continues to decline, while authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their grip on the media

As per the Index, threats, insults and attacks are now part of the “occupational hazards” for journalists in many countries.

“In India, where critics of Hindu nationalism are branded as “anti-Indian” in online harassment campaigns, six journalists were murdered in 2018,”

the RSF said in its Index.

Violence against journalists – including police violence, attacks by Maoist fighters, and reprisals by criminal groups or corrupt politicians – is one of the most striking characteristics of the current state of press freedom in India, the report said.

As per the RSF report, at least six Indian journalists were killed in connection with their work in 2018. A number of doubts surround a seventh case. These murders highlighted the many dangers Indian journalists face, especially those working for non-English-language media outlets in rural areas.

“Attacks against journalists by supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi increased in the run-up to general elections in the spring of 2019. Those who espouse Hindutva, the ideology that gave rise to Hindu nationalism, are trying to purge all manifestations of “anti-national” thought from the national debate,”

the report said.

“The coordinated hate campaigns waged on social networks against journalists who dare to speak or write about subjects that aggravate Hindutva followers are alarming and include calls for the journalists concerned to be murdered. The campaigns are particularly virulent when the targets are women,”

the report noted.

Further, the RSF report said that the emergence of a #MeToo movement in the media in 2018 has lifted the veil on many cases of harassment and sexual assault to which women reporters have been subjected. It also said that criminal prosecutions are meanwhile often used to gag journalists critical of the authorities, with some prosecutors invoking Section 124a of the penal code, under which “sedition” is punishable by life imprisonment.

 The mere threat of such a prosecution encourages self-censorship.

Coverage of regions that the authorities regard as sensitive, such as Kashmir, continues to be very difficult. Foreign reporters are barred from Kashmir and the Internet is often disconnected there,

RSF report said.

It also suggested that when not detained, Kashmiri journalists working for local media outlets are often the targets of violence.

Election Watch

In Himachal, Over 50 Lakh Voters to Cast Vote in 7730 Polling Stations on May 19

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Polling in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla– Over fifty lakh voters are set to vote in 7730 polling stations in four parliamentary constituencies of Himachal Pradesh in the last phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha election on May 19.

Talking about the poll preparations, Additional Chief Electoral Officer DK Rattan said, “53,30,154 voters will vote in 7730 polling stations on May 19. 373 polling stations are critical, 47 companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed there.

It’s being ensured that voting takes place peacefully at all polling stations. Rattan said that polling agents have either reached their respective polling stations or are on their way

“Polling party for the remote, tribal polling station at Bara Bhangal in Kangra district was sent on May 15. In Shimla’s Dodra Kawar, teams and material were sent for seven polling stations on May 16,”

he said

“In Lahaul Spiti district, the polling station has been set at an altitude of 15,256 feet at Tashigang. This is the world’s highest polling station,”

he added. (ANI)

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Campus Watch

Nauni Varsity Scholar Selected for World Congress on Agroforestry 2019, France

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Krishan Lal Gautam of UHF Nauni in France

Solan: Krishan Lal Gautam, a doctorate student of Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni has been selected to give a poster presentation at the 4th World Congress on Agroforestry, being held in Montpellier, France from 20-22 May 2019.

Based on the abstract the scientific committee of the Congress has selected Krishan Lal for receiving 1921 euros grant for attending the event. This includes 340 euros for registration and other fees while another 1,481 euros is being paid to facilitate travel, accommodation, visa and living expenses.

Krishan Lal has completed his B Sc (Hons) Forestry and M Sc Agroforestry from UHF. He is presently pursuing his doctorate in Agroforestry from the university. The title of the poster presentation is ‘Effect of different types of organic manure on the production of Lepidium sativum under Morus based agroforestry system’.

Dr HC Sharma, UHF Vice-Chancellor said that it was a great achievement for a student to be selected for an international academic event of such high repute. He hoped that Krishan Lal will not only represent the institution but also shine at the event. The Dean College of Forestry and the faculty also wished him success at the event.

The 4th World Congress on Agroforestry will see the participation of more than 1000 delegates and leading keynote speakers from all over the world to address a wide range of key agroforestry research issues. It will gather facts and figures from developing and developed countries and support a collaborative effort with broad social participation. Special attention will be given to vulnerable countries and populations.

The overall objective of the Congress is to contribute to the progress of agroforestry science and practice in order to bridge the science-policy gap. Some of the topics which will be covered during the congress are agroforestry and climate change, agroforestry, food security and nutrition, adoption of agroforestry, agroforestry policies etc.

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Misc News/Press Release

Shimla Rape Case: An Eyewitness Confirms Part of Victim’s Statement

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Update on Shimla Rape Case Victim

Shimla-The alleged case of rape with a 19-year-old in Shimla’s Bhattakufar area has become more complicated as an eyewitness confirmed a part of the victim’s statement given to police. As per reports, this eyewitness, in his statement, told police that he was parking his car on that night (28 April) when this girl came to him rushing and asking for help.

“He claimed the 19-year-old was in a semi-nude condition and was begging for help when he came across her near the Hill Grove on the Dhalli-Bhattakufar road,”

reported News 18

She was so scared that she tried to enter his car, he said. She asked him about the name of the location. The eyewitness told her that it was Hill Groove.

This eyewitness said he told the girl to not to worry and even told her that he would call her wife if that makes her feel safe.

A few minutes later, the eyewitness told the police, two persons came on a bike. One of the boys gave his shirt to the girl and took her with him. The eyewitness also gave initials of the bike number, and said he could not remember the complete number as it was dark.

The eyewitness also identified the boy in front of police later.

The police also questioned the boy, who is said to be a friend of the girl. As per the boy, he later provided the girl with his sister’s clothes. The sister of the boy also confirmed the same, said a Hindi Daily.

The eyewitness said that on reaching home he had told about this incident to his wife as well.

Sources said the girl had mentioned in her complaint seeking help from a man after she was allegedly raped, which has been now confirmed. The girl had made a call to his friend and on the Gudiya helpline between 9:20 PM and 10 PM. Police has not revealed any further details about the call records of the girl’s phone.

However, the appearance of this eyewitness has raised questions over the claim of the police that the girl’s statement was not matching with its findings.

Earlier, police had claimed that CCTV footages of about 1.5 km area concerned to the alleged crime did not corroborate with the girl’s statement regarding kidnap. Also, police had claimed that the girl had withdrawn her statement and denied her own allegations in her statement given before the magistrate under CrPC 164.

As a contrast to it, now police said a sketch of the accused have been prepared on the description given by the girl.

The report of the second opinion on medical examination of the girl has not been made public yet.

The report of the magisterial probe into the role of Lakkar Bazaar police that was to be submitted by Thursday evening has also been delayed.

As per the English Daily The Tribune, police have questioned about 70 persons in connection to the alleged crime.

“The girl had said the accused was not known to her and was in his early 30s, wore specs and had a mole on his lower lip.

the Daily reported.

So far, police is clueless about unidentified accused.

Another striking aspect related to the case is that the family of the victim has not given any statement so far.

Family of Victim Under Pressure from BJP Govt in Haryana: Rathor

On the other hand, the President of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee, Kuldeep Rathor, in a press conference in Solan district on Thursday claimed, the family of the girl was being pressurized to hush-up the matter. He alleged that he has received this information from credible sources. As the girl hails from Haryana, and BJP is in power in both Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, her family was pressurized to not speak of it. This is the reason that after filing an FIR, the girl had to withdraw her statement, he alleged.

Rathor has also demanded a judicial probe under the supervision of the State High Court for a fair investigation.  

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