Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns the targeted attacks by police on journalists that have occurred during a continuing wave of angry demonstrations to demand better protection for women and tougher punishments for sex crimes following the gang-rape of a female student in New Delhi on 16 December.
Many of the protests have degenerated into violent clashes with the police.
“We urge the authorities to carry out a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances of Thangjam Nanao Singh’s death, and to establish whether he was the deliberate target of the shot that killed him,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“The other cases of violence against the media should also be thoroughly investigated so that a sense of impunity does not take hold within the police. Such behaviour must stop at once. The police must use only necessary and proportionate force and should not treat journalists as if they were demonstrators.”
Thangjam Nanao Singh, a reporter for privately-owned Prime Time TV, was killed during a street demonstration in Imphal, in the northeastern state of Manipur, on 23 December. He appears to have been hit when police opened fire on protesters who had just set fire to a police vehicle.
According to the News Broadcasters Association, reporters, photographers and TV crew members were injured while covering a similar demonstration at New Delhi’s India Gate on 24 December. Equipment was also damaged when the police turned their water canon on media personnel, witnesses said.
Reporters Without Borders already voiced alarm last September about the increasing frequency of cases of journalists being attacked by police while covering demonstrations. India is ranked 131st out of 179 countries in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.