Srinagar: India has been ranked 140th in the list of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index 2014 by a global media watchdog .
“India experienced an unprecedented wave of violence against journalists, with eight killed in 2013. They are targeted by both state and non-state actors,” Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) said in its latest annual report.
“Almost no region is spared but Kashmir and Chhattisgarh continue to be the only two where violence and censorship are endemic,” it said.
The Asian democracies also have “forbidden areas” where “news is subject to blackouts or censorship.
“ In northern India’s Kashmir region and in Indonesia’s West Papua province, the work of journalists is handicapped by draconian news control policies,” the report said.
“Those responsible for threats and physical violence against journalists, who are often abandoned by the judicial system and forced to censor themselves, include police and security forces as well as criminal groups, demonstrators and political party supporters,” said the report.
China and Pakistan were placed at 175th and 158th position respectively in the report.
Finland has been ranked first in the list followed by Netherland and Norway.
The ranking of the US has dropped to 46th position from last year’s 32nd, while China has been ranked at the 175th position and Pakistan at 158th.
Pakistan remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists as besides the armed groups, the country’s intelligence agencies, especially the ISI, also represent a danger, the report said.
“There was lack of interest in rendering justice in Pakistan where the government seems powerless against not only the Taliban, Jihadis and other armed groups but also the military apparatus, which international observers describe as a ‘state within the state’,” it said.
The 2014 index underscores the negative correlation between freedom of information and conflicts, both open conflicts and undeclared ones, the report said.
The Paris-based media rights watchdog said, the countries that “pride themselves on being democracies and respecting the rule of law have not set an example, far from it.”
“This has been the case in the US (46th), which fell 13 places, one of the most significant declines, amid increased efforts to track down whistleblowers and the sources of leaks,” the report said.
“In the north of Sri Lanka (165th), the army reigns supreme, tolerating no challenge to the official vision of the pacification process in Tamil separatism’s former strongholds,” it said.
Syria remained especially deadly for journalists last year, with RSF reporting nearly 130 media professionals killed in the country since its conflict began in March 2011.