IFJ Mourns Journalist Killed in India, Calls for Inquiry

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is shocked

at reports that a freelance journalist, Hem Chandra Pandey, was killed in an

armed encounter in which police in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh

eliminated a leader of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), Cherukuri

Rajkumar, alias Azad.


The incident

reportedly took place late on the night of July 2 and was reported in the daily

newspapers of July 4.


A person

killed alongside Azad was identified by police as a Maoist cadre until his

picture was published in the press. Babita Pandey in Delhi identified the photo to be of her

husband, Hem Chandra Pandey.


At a press

conference in Delhi on July 4, Babita Pandey

reported that her husband had left for the central Indian town of Nagpur in Maharashtra

state on June 30 for a journalistic assignment and been unavailable on his

mobile phone since then. She has since travelled to Hyderabad, capital of Andhra Pradesh, to

claim her husband’s body.


It is

learnt that Hem Chandra Pandey, 30, may have travelled to Nagpur to seek an interview with Azad, who

was then engaged in talks with intermediaries seeking a truce in the escalating

confrontation between Indian security forces and Maoist insurgents.


The Indian

Journalists’ Union (IJU), an IFJ affiliate, and its constituent unit, the Andhra

Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ), have raised “serious doubts about

the circumstances” of Pandey’s death and demanded “an inquiry by an independent



Failure to

do so, the APUWJ and the IJU said in a statement, would fuel perceptions that

the killing was an attempt to “frighten and intimidate” journalists in the

performance of their duties.



Chandra Pandey, like any journalist, was well within his rights in seeking to interview

an insurgent leader, especially in the context of ongoing peace moves,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.


“The IFJ extends

its solidarity to Babita Pandey and the family of the killed journalist, and

welcomes the Andhra Pradesh Home Minister’s announcement of a full inquiry.”


The IFJ urges

that the inquiry be conducted by a fully empowered judicial authority within a

defined time-frame.


There was

some initial confusion over Pandey’s identity after a person allegedly speaking

on behalf of the Maoist party claimed he was a member of its northern regional

committee. This was swiftly denied by the official spokesperson of the

underground outfit.


            Pandey was involved in radical

campus politics during his years as a university student in his home state of

Uttarakhand. The organisation he was involved with is part of university life

in many Indian campuses and its political affiliation to a party that has

contested and won seats in India’s

Parliament is transparent.



who also wrote under the officially recognised alias of Hemant Pandey, was a contributor to leading

Hindi-language dailies such as Nai Duniya, Rashtriya Sahara and Dainik Jagaran. A portfolio of his recent writings shows a well-informed

engagement with issues of wide social concern, such as inflation, food security

and climate change. Nowhere does it reveal an advocacy of violence.


For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919



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