The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is dismayed by the acquittal of the sole surviving suspect in the murder of journalist Parag Kumar Das in the state of Assam in India in 1996.
Das, who was the executive editor of the Assamese-language daily, Asomiya Pratidin, was shot dead in broad daylight in a busy part of Guwahati city in the northeastern Indian state, as he was fetching his son from school.
At the time, the state government responded to widespread public outrage of its handling of the case by handing it over to the police agency controlled by India’s union government: the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Four persons, all surrendered militants of the separatist insurgent group, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) were formally indicted for the crime in 2000. By the time the trial began in 2004, all except one of the accused, Mridul Phukan, had died.
“We are deeply saddened that despite the lapse of so many years, justice has not been done for the slain editor”, said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.
The IFJ lends its full support to numerous journalists unions and associations in Assam, who have demanded that the acquittal be appealed in the Guwahati High Court.
The trial judge reportedly issued severe strictures against the investigating agency for failing to produce any substantive evidence linking the suspect to the crime.
“We urge the investigating authorities to remedy all procedural lapses and gather the evidence required to bring those responsible for the heinous murder of a distinguished Indian editor to account,” Park said.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries