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International day to end impunity for crimes against journalist

Between 1995 and 2020, over 1,200 journalists have been killed around the world, with close to 9 out of 10 cases of these killings remaining judicially unresolved, according to the UNESCO observatory of killed journalists.

Among many other assassinations of journos in Assam , one murder case of a journalist took to the headlines in the year 1996.

Parag Kumar Das the former editor of a reputed print media house , a radical journalist, human right activist and one of the founders of human rights movement in Assam . He was also the founder leader of Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS). He was assassinated by SULFA in the year 1996.

In the broad daylight of 17 May 1996, while taking back his young son from school , Das was assassinated by four SULFA members – Mridul Phukan alias Samar Kakati, Diganta Baruah, Tapan Dutta alias Biswajit Saikia and Nayan Das alias Guli. This open murder of a journalist created massive outrage in the entire state.

In 2001, CBI filed its chargesheet in Kamrup District and Sessions Court against the four accused – All of them were SULFA . Before the CBI Could file its chargesheet, Diganta Baruah and Tapan Dutta were killed and in 2003 Nayan Das was killed by a fuming mob in Dibrugarh. Promod Gogoi and Prabin Sarma, two other suspects were not charge-sheeted for lack of evidence against them. Mridul Phukan is the only surviving accused in the case. But after thirteen years, on 28 July 2009, Justice Dilip Kumar Mahanta, District and Sessions Judge, Kamrup, has acquitted the prime accused specifying lack of solid evidence against him.

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The press club of Guwahati once quoted , “We suspect, Parag Kumar Das was targeted by the government agencies as he was very critical against some policies adopted by New Delhi. The CBI, which investigated the case in later part, even issued charge sheets to some convicts. But no one has been convicted by the court. Of course, we are still waiting for justice.”

Impunity leads to more killings and is often a symptom of worsening conflict and the breakdown of law and judicial systems. UNESCO is concerned that impunity damages whole societies by covering up serious human rights abuses, corruption, and crime. Governments, civil society, the media, and everyone concerned to uphold the rule of law are being asked to join in the global efforts to end impunity.

It is in recognition of the far-reaching consequences of impunity, especially of crimes against journalists, that the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/68/163(link is external) at its 68th session in 2013 which proclaimed 2 November as the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ (IDEI). The Resolution urged Member States to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impunity. The date was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013.



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