Little Progress in Investigation of Journalist’s Murder in Chhattisgarh State

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is

concerned at the serious lack of progress in the investigation into the death of

Umesh Rajput, a reporter with the Hindi daily Nai Duniya, a fortnight

after he was murdered outside his home in Chura village, near the state capital

of Chhattisgarh state.

 

Rajput was

called out of his home on the evening of January 23 by two unidentified men and

shot dead as he emerged. A note left at the site had a message written in

Hindi, which said that the murder was the consequence of stories the reporter

had been filing.

 

Since then

a local doctor and his assistant have been taken into custody. Two weeks before

his murder Rajput filed a story alleging that the doctor was guilty of

negligence in performing eye surgery, which resulted in serious post-operative

problems for a patient. He had been threatened by individuals believed to be

acting on the doctor’s behalf and had filed a complaint with the local police.

 

Journalists

in Chhattisgarh have been agitating since the murder, demanding quick and

purposeful investigation. But according to Narayan Sharma, head of one of the

journalists’ unions in the state no breakthroughs have yet been made and the

interrogation of the two detainees has revealed little.

 

“The IFJ

is distressed at this lack of progress since available evidence seems to

suggest that a journalist has been killed directly on account of his work,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

 

“Our

worries are compounded by the fact that this murder seems to be part of a

pattern of violence against media workers in Chhattisgarh state.”

 

On

December 20, Sushil Pathak, a senior reporter with one of the leading

Hindi-language newspapers, Dainik Bhaskar, was shot dead in Bilaspur

district of the state. Investigations have since seemingly concluded that this

murder was not related to his professional work and may have been caused by a

dispute over a real estate deal.

 

Earlier in

the same month, three senior journalists in the southern district of Dantewada

were identified by name in a note circulated anonymously among media offices, and threatened with a “dog’s death”

if they did not desist from reporting on human rights issues. The note, it was

widely believed, originated from one of the vigilante groups that have been

armed as part of a counter-insurgency operation against the state’s underground

Maoist groups.

 

“We call

on the authorities in Chhattisgarh to investigate all recent incidents of

threats and violence against journalists with due diligence,” Park said.

 

“Circumstances

in the state are challenging and demand that journalists be allowed to function

in an environment free of fear.”

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries

 

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IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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