As the Covid-19 pandemic has emerged as a severe health hazard to the Indian media fraternity more prominent journalists start falling preys to the disaster. Thousands of journalists along with other media employees are infected with the novel corona virus as they have been playing the role of corona-warriors along with the practicing doctors, nurses, sanitation workers, police personnel etc.
India lately lost nine journalists to Covid-19 complications within eighteen days. The latest victim surfaces from Assam as a news presenter named Golap Saikia (52) succumbed to Covid-19 complications on 26 September 2020 in a private hospital. The soft-spoken gentleman used to work as a casual newsreader in All India Radio Guwahati prior to which he presented news bulletins in Guwahati Doordarshan along with private satellite news channels like DY365, NewsLive, PrimeNews, etc.
Earlier, Indore (Madhya Pradesh) based senior journalist Manoj Binwal died of the virus infection in the hospital. Binwal (55), who worked for Hindi newspaper Prajatantra, was hospitalized after testing positive for Covid-19 and breather his last on 20 September. A day back, Agra based journalist Ami Adhar Nidar (50) died of the virus infection at a Gurugram hospital. Associated with widely circulated Hindi newspaper DainikJagaran, the popular journalist was hospitalized after he tested positive for Covid-19.
Anil Srivastava (68) from Basti in Jammu locality succumbed to Covid-19 on 18 September died at a government hospital. Worked for the United News of India for many years, Srivastava also edited local newspapers namely VicharParakh and PrakashTimes. Same day, Madhya Pradesh lost one of its senior journalists to Covid-19. Harish Choubey (60), who worked for popular Hindi newspaper DainikBhaskar from Jabalpur, was hospitalized after testing positive for the virus infection.
Aurangabad based senior journalist Rahul Dolare (49) died of the infection on 14 September at a government hospital. He was associated with a local newspaper and hospitalized after complaining of mild fever. Chennai based Tamil journalist-actor Florent C Pereira (67) also died same day in the hospital. Used to work for Kalaignar TV, Win TV and Vijay TV, Pereira was hospitalized after he tested positive for Covid-19.
Abohar (Punjab) based journalist Naresh Bajaj (57) succumbed to Covid-19 complications on 10 September. Bajaj worked for SachKahoon newspaper and he was very active as a frontline corona activist. Ravinder Kumar (30) from Una (Himachal Pradesh) died of corona infection on 9 September. Working for DainikJagran, Kumar was sent to the hospital after developing symptoms of Covid-19 and he died on the way. His cremation was conducted following Covid-19 protocols. Assam earlier witnessed two Covid-19 journo-victims as Udalguri based correspondent Dhaneswar Rabha (35) breathed his last at Guwahati medical college hospital on 6 September. Rabha is the first scribe in the region to succumb to Covid-19 complications, who was otherwise suffering from renal problems and went for regular dialysis. Next day, senior journalist Ashim Dutta passed away at Silchar medical college hospital. Dutta (65), who worked for a Bengali daily in Barak valley, was also suffering from kidney problems. He was admitted to the hospital after testing positive for Covid-19.
Weeks back, Dhanbad (Jharkhand) based senior journalist Sanjiv Sinha, Gorakhpur (UP) based photo journalist Rajiv Ketan, Mumbai based senior film-journalist Shyam Sarma, Nellore (Andhra Pradesh) based scribe Narayanam Seshacharyulu, Pune based television reporter Pandurang Raikar, Kanpur based television journalist Neelanshu Shukla, Patiala based photojournalist Jai Deep, Tirupati based television reporter Madhusudan Reddy & video journalist M Parthasarathy succumbed to the infections.
The list also includes television reporter Ramanathan & news videographer E Velmurugan from Chennai, news presenter Davinder Pal Singh from Chandigarh, television scribe Manoj Kumar from Hyderabad, print-journalist Pankaj Kulashrestha from Agra, Orissa’s journalists Simanchal Panda, K Ch Ratnam & Priyadarshi Patnaik, etc.
Kolkata based photojournalist Ronny Roy became the first Indian scribe to lose his battle against the dreaded virus. New Delhi scribe Tarun Sisodia killed himself undergoing Covid-19 treatment at AIIMS. Maharashtra’s veteran journalist Ashok Churi, who edited Marathi weekly PalgharTimes, died at a Palghar based hospital, who later tested positive for Covid-19. The printer-publisher of AsomiyaKhabar (Rantu Das) also died at a Guwahati hospital and later tested positive for the virus infection.
With all these casualties, the pandemic has also crashed the India mainstream media industry. Worried owners have already stopped publishing hundreds of physical newspapers and those surviving managements closed down their editions in different localities, reduced the number of pages, went to cut salaries and even lay off employees including senior journalists citing the reason of shrinking advertisement revenues. And as usual, few editors only could raise voices against the arbitrary retrenchments of managements and ongoing humiliations in the work places.
The author is a northeast India based journalist and media activist.
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