The media, particularly new media, has been able to take advantage of a favourable climate for press freedom to boost its development. In regions shaken by armed separatist or Maoist movements, journalists are regularly caught in the crossfire.

Around a dozen deputies were forced to resign in December after being filmed by journalists on the privately-owned TV station, Aaj Tak, in the act of accepting bribes. The investigative press remains marginalised, but is not afraid to tilt at the powerful.

After years of protectionism, the government in New Delhi has allowed foreign press groups to buy shares in Indian media. A sprinkling of licences has also been granted to private radios.

In Kashmir, despite the ongoing peace process, the violence has still not ended. Around a score of reporters have been physically attacked by police during 2005. At least five others have been wounded in blind bomb attacks by radical separatists. The editor of the daily The Great Kashmir has been the victim of judicial harassment by the local authorities.

In Andhra Pradesh state in the country's south-east, the government has launched an offensive against Maoist groups. N. Venugopal, editor of a regional bi-monthly, spent two weeks in prison on the basis of unproven accusations of intellectual support for this armed movement,

Journalists who may have covered Maoist activities can be jailed for up to three years, under a security order passed in the neighbouring state of Chhattisgarh.


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