Guwahati, July 20 (IANS) The Journalists' Forum Assam (JFA) has lauded the Indian envoy at the United Nations for his concern and his appeal to the international community for the security of scribes working in conflict zones across the globe.
JFA, the northeast India-based media persons' organisation, however, claimed that India in general and trouble-torn Assam in particular were recognised as being among the most dangerous places for working journalists.
The JFA reaction came Saturday after India's permanent representative at the UN Asoke Kumar Mukerji Wednesday argued that journalists, who play a crucial role in ensuring citizens' rights to constitutionally guaranteed liberty, freedom of speech and expression, should also get the protection of governments.
The JFA, while questioning the sincerity of the Indian machinery on the protection of working journalists, alleged that the scribes and their families remain victims of circumstances in Assam and northeast India.
"Assam has lost over 20 correspondents, journalists and editors in the last two decades. Shockingly, not a single culprit has been punished till date. In most cases, the police and authorities have made it a habit to ignore useful facts while presenting the cases in the respected courts, giving ample scope for the culprits to go free," a statement issued by the JFA Saturday said.
The JFA alleged that the killing of Kamala Saikia by United Liberation Front of Assam militants in 1991 and the murder of Parag Kumar Das by surrendered militants in 1997 had gone unpunished for decades.
"The recent killing of three newspaper employees, namely Sujit Bhattcharjee, Ranjit Chaudhary and Balaram Ghosh in Tripura, when they were working in the office of Dainik Ganadoot, an Agartala-based Bengali newspaper, speaks volumes about the sense of vulnerability for media persons in northeast India," JFA president Rupam Baruah said.
"In reality, the media persons of the region are mostly low-paid and out of insurance coverage, and remain susceptible to numerous threats from insurgents, surrendered militants and even anti-insurgent security agencies," he said.