India: Journalist in arson attack after reporting on corruption

Rakesh Singh Nirbhek, a reporter working for Rashtriya waroop newspaper and his friend Pintu Sahu were assaulted and suffered fatal burn wounds when his house set on fire by three assailants in the journalist’s house in Kalwari village. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Indian affiliates the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) and National Union of Journalists (NUJ-I) condemn this heinous murder and urge the authorities to hold its perpetrators accountable.

Journalit Rakesh Singh Nirbhek. Credit: News2o.com

On November 27, Singh’s house was burnt down,  causing serious burn injuries to him and his friend Pintu Sahu, who died on the spot , while Singh died hours later at King George's Medical University’s Trauma.

Minutes before dying, the journalist said the attack was due to his reporting on corruption by the Kalwari village head Sushila Devi and her son. “This is the price for reporting the truth,” he said in a video recorded by the police at the hospital.

The Balrampur police arrested the son of the village head and two other suspects who were allegedly involved in the crime. They all confessed to the crime and were sent to jail on December 1.

Singh’s reported on the alleged corrupt practices of the village major Sushila Devi over the installation of solar panels and the construction of roads and sewage facilities. 

Singh is the second journalist murdered because of his reporting in November alone. Earlier, G. Moses, a reporter for Tamilian TV, was murdered in a western suburb of Kundrathru, following his coverage of illegal land grabbing. Impunity for crimes against journalists in India is rampant.

The IJU president Geetartha Pathak said: “The IJU expresses serious concerns over this murder and frequent attacks, arrests and other forms of media right’s violations in Uttar Pradesh. The IJU urges for exemplary punishment to the murderers of Rakesh Singh Nirbheek.”  

The NUJ-I President Ras Bihari said: “We strongly condemn the gruesome murder of journalist Singh, appeal the state government to set up a high-level judicial commission to probe the incident and punish those behind the murder.” 

The IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “The horrible murder of Rakesh Singh for his reporting exposes the critical situation of journalists in India. The IFJ urges the Indian authorities to end impunity for crimes against media workers and punish those responsible for this crime regardless of their political affiliation.” 

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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