India more dangerous than Pakistan for journalists: report

It may sound unbelievable but India is hardly different from war-torn Syria in terms of safety for its journalists as almost an equal number died in the first six months of 2013, a report said.

Eight journalists lost their lives in Syria between January and June while India, which is ranked second least safe country for journalists after Syria, lost six media personnel during the same period, said a biannual Killing the Messenger report by International News Safety Institute (INSI).

Unsafe profession. Reuters

Unsafe profession. Reuters

"The last time India was among the top five worst countries was in 2010," the reprt said. "Although the tally is high, research suggests that while one member of the news media was murdered because of his work, three were killed in what is thought to be a case of mistaken identity and two were killed in accidents."

Journalist Nemi Chand Jain was found dead in Chhattisgarh in February this year with his throat slit and a note clipped to his belt accusing him of being a police informer.

In May, three employees from a Bengali daily were murdered by masked men who forced their way into the office. The dead included the manager of the paper, Ranjit Choudhary, a proof reader and a driver.

"Two journalists were also killed in accidents while on assignment: Prem Thakur, a reporter for Asia News International, was killed in an avalanche while filming a snow clearing operation near the Himalayas. Photographer Manjunath Gowda was killed by an elephant after he went to close to take a picture of it," the INSI report said.

According to the report, of the 40 journalists and support staff killed in the first half of 2013, over half (21) were killed in peacetime as opposed to warfare.

"The death toll reminds us of the immense risks journalists take in the course of their work, and not just while reporting on conflict. Journalists continue to be targeted for covering crime and corruption in countries which are officially at peace,” said Hannah Storm, director of INSI.

"As long as those who murder journalists get off scot free, they will continue to believe they can kill the messenger. We call on agencies, governments and the news industry to work together to reduce the risks for journalists and end impunity for those who threaten journalists," Storm said.

Pakistan and Somalia were ranked fourth and fifth most dangerous countries for journalists, with five and four journalists killed respectively.