Journalist Murdered in India's Assam State

 

 

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is shocked

and outraged at the murder of journalist Jagajit Saikia in India’s north-eastern state of Assam on November 22.

 

According to

the Journalists’ Union of Assam (JUA),

a unit of the IFJ-affiliated Indian Journalists’ Union (IJU), Saikia was shot by a group of armed men as he proceeded

by motorcycle from his office. The incident happened at 1:30pm in a busy

commercial area in the town of Kokrajhar.

 

Saikia, a correspondent for the Assamese language daily Amar

Asom, suffered five bullet

wounds to the chest and one to his head. He was declared dead on arrival at a

nearby hospital.

 

Saikia is

the second journalist murdered in India’s north-east in the past

week. On November 17, Konsam Rishikanta, 22, was killed in Imphal, capital of

the state of Manipur.

 

In Assam alone, 16

journalists have been killed since 1991. In April, Badosa Narzary, owner of

local channel BL TV, was killed by unidentified gunmen in Kokrajhar. 

 

Police

sources reportedly said that based on a preliminary examination of the used

bullets recovered from the spot, any

one of the militant groups active in the area could be responsible for Saikia’s

murder.

 

Kokrajhar

was among five towns in Assam

targeted by a series of bomb blasts on October 29 in which more than 80 people

were killed. Security agencies have since taken into custody militant cadres of

the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB),

one of many armed outfits fighting for the political autonomy of the Bodo

tribal group in Assam.

India’s

Government has re-imposed a ban on the NDFB under a law covering “unlawful

activities”.

 

The NDFB, which entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government

in 2005, denied involvement in the

bombings.

 

Sources in Assam inform

the IFJ that Saikia maintained contacts with the NDFB as part of his

professional work.

 

“The IFJ

appeals to State security agencies and militant groups in India’s north-east to respect the

right of journalists to access information from all sides of a conflict

situation,” the IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

“This requires,

above all, that the non-combatant

status of journalists in zones of armed conflict and insurgency be treated as

an inviolable principle, in

accordance with  United

Nations Security Council Resolution 1738 which obliges all parties to a

conflict to protect journalists reporting in conflict areas.”

The IFJ extends

its sympathy to Saikia’s family and supports the JUA in its protest campaign, which begins tomorrow,

demanding action to end violence against media personnel in Assam.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ represents

over 600,000 journalists in 120

countries