by N.J. Thakuria 23 November 2020
One more Indian journalist falls prey to the
Covid-19 pandemic as Noida based scribe Pankaj Shukla breathed his
last on 20 November 2020. Hailed from Bareilly locality of Uttar
Pradesh in central India, Shukla (50) was admitted at JP Hospital,
Noida, where he succumbed to novel coronavirus infection, aggravated
Shukla studied at Allahabad University and started his journalism
a career with popular Hindi newspapers like AmarUjala and DainikJagaran.
Later the journalist with a charming personality shifted to electronic
platforms like Janmat TV, KhabarBharti, News 30, NewsExpress, etc.
Very recently Shukla launched his own youtube channel Rajsatta
Express and worked as its editor-in-chief.
“India has lost 50 working journalists to Covid-19 complications,
whereas the worldwide media corona-casualties rise to 469 in 56
countries. In fact, it emerges as the second most affected country
among media persons after Peru followed by Brazil, Bangladesh, Mexico,
USA, Pakistan, UK, Afghanistan, Russia, France, Spain, Italy, Egypt,
Nepal etc,” said Blaise Lempen, general-secretary of Press Emblem
Campaign (www.pressemblem.ch), an international media rights body
based in Switzerland.
Haryana based journalist Rakesh Taneja (51) died of Covid-19 at a
Faridabad hospital on 16 November. Taneja used to work for Zee News,
Amar Ujala, Dainik Bhaskar, etc and earned reputations while reporting
on crime and legal beats. Orissa’s television scribe Prabir Kumar
Pradhan (35) succumbed to the virus infection on 5 November. Pradhan
used to work for News18 (Odia) news channel and died in the hospital.
A Tripura-based video journalist Jitendra Debbarma (46) lost his
battle against the corona infection on 20 October. Debbarma worked for
a Kakborok language cable channel named Chini Khorang and succumbed
to Covid-19 complications at Khumulwng hospital. Mysuru based
journalist Pavan Hettur (35), who worked for Kannada daily Prajavani
died of the virus infection on 18 October at a private hospital.
Patna based photojournalist Krishna Mohan Sharma (63), who worked for
Times of India, died of corona complications on 15 October while
undergoing treatment at AIIMS, New Delhi. The same day, veteran cricket
journalist & commentator Kishore Bhimani (81), died after contracting
the virus at a hospital in Kolkata.
The robust Indian media family lost at least twelve journalists to
corona-complications in September. Ludhiana based veteran journalist
Ashwani Kapoor (70), who worked for a highly circulated newspaper
Punjab Kesari succumbed to Covid-19 at a private hospital on 29
September. Guwahati based news presenter in All India Radio, Golap
Saikia (52) died with corona-infections on 26 September at a
city-based private hospital.
Patna’s senior journalist Arun Kumar Verma (68), who was associated
with various Prasar Bharti outlets died during Covid-19 treatment on
22 September. Indore journalist Manoj Binwal (55), who was associated
with the Hindi newspaper Prajatantra, died of the virus infection while
undergoing treatment on 20 September. A day back, Agra’s journalist
Ami Adhar Nidar (50), who worked for widely circulated DainikJagaran,
passed away with the infection.
Jammu based scribe Anil Srivastava (68), who was associated with
United News of India, succumbed to Covid-19 on 18 September at a
government-run hospital. Same day Jabalpur’s journalist Harish
Choubey (60), who worked for popular Hindi newspaper Dainik Bhaskar,
expired with the coronavirus infection. Aurangabad based journalist
Rahul Dolare (49) died on 14 September at a government hospital. The same
day, Chennai’s popular journalist-actor Florent C Pereira (67) died
Punjab’s Abohar based journalist Naresh Bajaj (57), who was
associated with SachKahoon newspaper, succumbed to
corona-complications on 10 September. Ravinder Kumar (30) from
Himachal Pradesh, who worked for Dainik Jagran, died of Covid-19 on 9
September. Assam’s rural reporter Dhaneswar Rabha (35) died at
Guwahati medical college hospital on 6 September. Rabha is the first
scribe in the region to die of Covid-19. The next day, senior journalist
Ashim Dutta (65) passed away with the infection at Silchar medical
Months back, Dhanbad’s journalist Sanjiv Sinha, Gorakhpur’s photo
journalist Rajiv Ketan, Mumbai’s senior film-journalist Shyam Sarma,
Nellore’s scribe Narayanam Seshacharyulu, Pune’s television reporter
Pandurang Raikar, Kanpur’s television journalist Neelanshu Shukla,
Patiala’s photojournalist Jai Deep, Tirupati’s television reporter
Madhusudan Reddy and video journalist M Parthasarathy succumbed to
The list includes journalist Prakash Deshmukh from Mumbai, the veteran
journalist Ashok Churi from Palghar, television reporter Ramanathan
and news videographer E Velmurugan from Chennai, the news presenter
Davinder Pal Singh from Chandigarh, television scribe Manoj Kumar from
Hyderabad, journalist Pankaj Kulashrestha from Agra, journalists
Simanchal Panda, K Ch Ratnam, and Priyadarshi Patnaik from Orissa.
Kolkata’s photojournalist Ronny Roy became the first Indian scribe to
die of Covid-19.
Emerged as a severe health hazard, the pandemic has affected thousands
of journalists and media employees in India as they are playing the
role of corona-warriors along with the doctors, nurses, sanitation
workers, police personnel, etc. The increase of media corona-casualties
is precisely tempted by the insensitive approach of editor-managements’ towards the employees while engaging them on
duties with little precautions,” said Nava Thakuria, the PEC
representative in India.
With all the casualties, the pandemic also crushed the Indian
mainstream media industry to a larger extent. Many print media owners
have stopped publishing physical newspapers and shifted to the digital
space. Some print management even closed down their editions in
different places, reduced pages, cut salaries, and even layoff
employees including senior journalists citing the reason for shrinking