It is said that every cloud has a silver lining. When the freedom of the Press was about to touch the nadir, a special court in Mumbai on May 2, had sent gangster Chota Rajan to jail for life in the journalist Jyotirmoy Dey murder case. It had been reported in the press on May 3 which was the World Press Freedom Day!
It is a significant coincidence that highlights the need for speedy criminal justice delivery system to save our democracy.
Our position in press freedom has gone further down to 138 among 180 countries. India has continuously been sliding down from 133rd position in 2016 to 136th in 2017 to 138th in 2018 on the World Press Freedom Ranking Index of the international free speech advocate Reporters Without Borders..
Freedom of the Press is now in great danger. Journalists like Gouri Lankesh, Shantanu Bhowmik and KJ Singh have been murdered in different parts of our country a few months ago. There was a dastardly petrol bomb attack at the residence of the editor of the Shillong Times, Patricia Mukhim a few days ago.
It will be a bad day for democracy if the Press has to work in a reign of terror.
In a political IPL match between the ruling and the opposition parties, the media cannot take the role of cheerleaders of any one team in a democracy. Indeed, the fourth estate must be the third umpire to help the umpires (voters) on the field.
The fact of the matter is that dissent, debate and dialogue are central to democracy. On the other hand, democracy is the lifeblood of our Constitution and nation. So, those intolerant forces that are hell bent on gagging the voice of democracy are actually anti-national forces masquerading as nationalists. We must remember that democracy cannot survive without free press.