New Delhi Last Updated at May 2, 2018
“They were killed in connection with their reporting, judging by what initial investigations show,” it said.
Apart from these, there were defamation cases that came to trial. A sedition case was filed against a journalist. There was also a clear push by both the State, Centre and the judiciary — through regulatory policy as well as judicial orders — to curb free speech, The Hoot said.
“Media freedom continued to deteriorate in the first four months of 2018 in India,” said the non-profit watchdog.
“There were also around 50 instances of censorship and more than 20 instances of suspension of Internet services as well as the taking down of online content,” it added.
All three journalists killed in the January-April period were mowed down by vehicles.
Police said the vehicle was driven by a village leader and that a heated argument between him and the reporters over a news report had preceded the “accident”.
A day later, television reporter Sandeep Sharma was mowed down by a truck in Bhind, Madhya Pradesh. Sharma, who had done a sting operation on a sand mining mafia in Bhind, had told police that he had received threats to his life, it said.
Hoot’s investigation revealed that politicians, businessmen, members of Hindu right wing groups, police and paramilitary forces, government agencies like the film certification board, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, state governments, lawyers and even media groups had acted to undermine freedom of expression.
India’s record on press freedom has remained poor and has been deteriorating over the last couple of years.
The Hoot report, however, said: “Despite the ominous number and range of attacks on freedom of expression, the ongoing struggle to resist these curbs does yield results.”