Deadly Stamped Kills 22 in India

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 
NEW DELHI, India – A deadly stampeded occurred on September 29th around 10:30 a.m. local time in India. The incident happened on a footbridge at Prabhadevi train station which is located in the Indian financial hub of Mumbai. More than 20 deaths and 35 injuries have been reported.
Relatives of victims wait outside the King Edward Memorial Hospital. Photo courtesy of CNN.

The crowd on the footbridge grew larger as people tried to take cover during a rain shower. It is reported that a person may have slipped which lead to the initial blockage. Many television viewers witnessed many bodies jammed together against a railing. Some of the victims even jumped from the bridge.

The injured were taken to the King Edward Memorial Hospital for treatment. The doctors at the hospital asked for blood donations.

The bridge is believed to be constructed during the British colonial times. For a while, the bridge has been described as a safety hazard according to a local lawmaker.

Piyush Goel, who is currently serving as the country’s railways minister expressed his condolences. The Indian rail network carries around 23 million passengers daily and connects 8,000 stations across the country. Moreover, suburban trains carry an estimated 8 million travelers daily.

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a $17-billion high-speed train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad. Since then, he has received criticisms for not addressing the overcrowding issues for the country’s local trains. Later that day, Prime Minister Modi expressed his “deepest condolences to all those who have lost their lives due to the stampede in Mumbai.”

In an analysis done by a data journalism website, around nine people die every day on Mumbai’s local train tracks.

For more information, please see:

LA Times – At least 22 killed in stampede at Mumbai rail station – 29 September, 2017

Chicago Tribune – Stampede on pedestrian bridge between Mumbai railway stations leaves at least 22 dead – 29 September, 2017

CNN – Mumbai stampede kills 22, injures 35 at train station – 29 September, 2017

China Takes Control of Two More Newspapers

By: Jessica Ties
Impunity Watch, Asia

 BEIJING, China – Two Beijing newspapers, Beijing Times and Beijing News, have been placed under the control of the Chinese Communist Party’s local propaganda department.

Two newspapers, Beijing News and Beijing Times, have come under control of the Beijing propaganda bureau (Photo Courtesy of China Media Watch).
Two newspapers, Beijing News and Beijing Times, have come under control of the Beijing propaganda bureau (Photo Courtesy of China Media Watch).

According to Qianlong, a website controlled and operated by the Chinese government, the newspapers were taken over in an attempt to control in an advertising war waged between them and to increase the influence and competitiveness of The Beijing News.

Critics; however, view the move as retribution for the outspoken and critical articles that both newpapers have become notorious for producing. One of the affected newspaper employees expressed concern at the affect the takeover will have by stating that “it means there will be so much we can’t do. Before there was news that other papers couldn’t do but we could.”

Prior to coming under the control of the Chinese government, Beijing News and Beijing Times were both overseen by the state-level Central Publicity Department which left them essentially untouched by the directives given by Beijing city authorities and thus more capable of candid reporting.

As a result both papers became well-known for consistently publishing stories, many of which other media outlets were prohibited from covering, that were critical of  local government’s around China.

Many journalists are alleging that this candid reporting is what led to the takeover. One example of the critical reporting done by the two newly censored papers was the high-speed train crash that occurred in Wenzhou in July and in which the papers harshly criticized the government’s response and poor safety standards.

In addition, Beijing News and Beijing Times both covered the controversial topic of school closures for the children of migrant workers in Beijing which has angered many human rights groups. According to a reporter at Beijing News, Beijing’s propaganda authorities had contacted the central publicity department several times to complain about what it perceived to be negative coverage.

Media analyst Wen Yunchao stated that “it’s been a headache for the Beijing propaganda authorities that they didn’t directly control the two newspapers.” According to Wen , prior to the takeover the Beijing propaganda authorities could only influence the content of the papers if they were assisted by the central publicity department but the new takeover will allow content to be controlled with greater ease.

Media experts, including Wen Yunchao, expect that the takeover will cause news content to rapidly change to alter coverage on sensitive and controversial topics in a way that will portray the Chinese government more favorably. 

Fear of increased government crackdown on dissent is further fueled by the recent discovery that Chinese authorities are considering a law that would allow individuals to be detained for up to six months without notification being given to family members.

Chinese authorities have denied allegations of a crackdown and have said that the editorial policies and senior staff would remain the same.

For more information, please see:

NDT – Propaganda Bureau Takes Over Two Beijing Newspapers – 6 September 2011

The Guardian – Propaganda Bureau Takes Control of Two Beijing Newspapers – 3 September 2011

The Diplomat – Beijing Papers Taken Over – 4 September 2011

Radio Free Asia – Newspapers Face New Controls – 4 September 2011