Nava Thakuria, PEC South Asia Correspondent, Geneva/ Guwahati, 17 April: As more journalists are falling preys to Covid-19 in South Asian nations (India and Bangladesh), the Switzerland based media rights and safety body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) urges for preparedness among media persons as they have to continue playing the role of corona warriors after the doctors, nurses, sanitation workers etc.
Expressing apprehensions that the situation may deteriorate for the safety of journalists on the ground due to the corona-pandemic, Blaise Lempen, general secretary of PEC (https://pressemblem.ch/) advocates for adequate compensations to the victim families and early vaccinations to media workers of all ages so that they can perform their duties without endangering precious lives.
Even after the Indian government launched a massive corona-vaccination program covering nearly 120 million people till now in the backdrop of around two million reported infections every day across the billion-plus nation, at least three senior journalists succumbed to Covid-19 complications within a week.
Lucknow-based journalist Ankit Shukla (35), who worked for the daily Jagran, died of corona aggravated ailments on 16 April. The 66th victim among Indian scribes, Shukla tested positive for the infection a few days back and was admitted in RM Lohia hospital. later he was shifted to a specially monitored corona-unit, where Shukla died in the morning hours.
A day back, Odisha’s Patnagarh based journalist Jatish Khamari (46) succumbed to corona complications at a Bhubaneswar-based hospital. Khamari was associated with the daily Sambad and tested positive for the virus infection some days back. Initially, he was admitted in a rural but later shifted to Bhubaneswar, where he breathed his last on the night of 15 April.
Earlier, Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh) based senior cartoonist Pradeep Arya (58) passed away with corona aggravated ailments on 12 April. Associated with Hindi newspapers like Deshbandhu, Nababharat, Lokswar, etc, Arya tested positive for the virus infection a few days back. He remained in home isolation for sometime, but soon admitted in a local hospital, where he surrendered to the infection.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh reported its 49th corona victims among media persons as the promising television news producer Rifat Sultana (32) died of corona aggravated pregnancy-related complications on 16 April. Associated with the Dhaka-based Bengali news channel Ekattor TV, Sultana tested positive for the infection a few days back and died in the hospital after giving birth to a baby.
Earlier the country witnessed the demises of journalist Hassan Shahriar and Roman Shah Alam because of Covid-19 aggravated ailments. Shahriar (76), who was associated with the daily Ittefaq and was also the president of National Press Club, died at a Dhaka hospital on 10 April and Shah Alam, who was the Gazipur correspondent of Daily Lakho Kanto, passed away on 1 April.
Meanwhile, the PEC team reported that more than a thousand journalists died of corona complications in 74 countries since its outbreak in March 2020 projecting the casualty of two scribes per day. It added that March 2021 was a deadly month with 93 journalists deceased from the coronavirus making the casualty of three per day. Expressing concerns over the dropping of victim’s ages as nearly half of journalists dying from the infection in March remained between the ages of 40 and 60, the PEC team admitted that the total number of media victims is certainly higher.
The PEC team, which has been documenting the corona-casualties among journalists across the globe, pursues for alertness among media persons as they are playing the role of corona warriors after the doctors, nurses, sanitation workers etc. It advocates for adequate compensations to the victim families and early vaccinations to media workers of all ages so that they can continue working without endangering their precious lives.