Murder of two journalists prompts uproar in India

By Abdul Gani

Indian journalists shout slogans during a protest following the killing of journalist Rajdeo Ranjan in Siwan on May 14, 2016.  Gunmen shot dead two journalists in 24 hours in separate incidents in eastern India, police and local reports said May 14, the latest media killing in Asia's deadliest country for reporters. Rajdeo Ranjan, the local bureau chief for Hindi-language daily Hindustan, was travelling on his motorcycle late May 13 in Bihar state when a group of unknown assailants shot him five times. Late on May 12, television journalist Akhilesh Pratap Singh was also shot dead by unknown assailants as he returned home on a motorbike in restive Jharkhand state, which neighbours Bihar, according to local reports.  / AFP / STR
Indian journalists shout slogans during a protest following the killing of journalist Rajdeo Ranjan in Siwan on May 14, 2016. Gunmen shot dead two journalists in 24 hours in separate incidents in eastern India./ AFP / STR

{THE PENINSULA /  GUWAHATI, India}: The recent murder of two journalists in the states of Bihar and Jharkhand has sparked outrage across the country and made India the most dangerous place in Asia for journalists — ahead of Pakistan and Afghanistan — according to Paris-based NGO Reporters without Borders.

According to the Peninsula online newspaper, on Friday, Rajdeo Ranjan, a journalist with over 20 years’ experience and bureau chief of Hindi-language daily “Hindustan”, was shot dead in Bihar State’s Siwan district.

According to India’s NDTV channel, unidentified assailants fired five shots at Ranjan at extremely close range near the Siwan Railway Station, killing him instantly.

One day earlier, 35-year-old Akhilesh Pratap Singh, who had worked for a local television news channel, was similarly killed by unidentified gunmen in Jharkhand State’s Chatra district.

In the days since, members of various Indian press organizations have held demonstrations to demand justice and new legislation guaranteeing protection for media personnel.

“We condemn such attacks… and appeal to the government to take strict action against the culprits,” Nava Thakuria, secretary-general of the Journalist Forum of Assam, a media organization, told Anadolu Agency.

“We demand a special protection law for journalists working across India and call upon the union government in New Delhi to formulate a national action plan to safeguard media persons who pursue critical journalism,” Thakuria said.

So far this year, three journalists in India have been killed, the first incident having occurred in Uttar Pradesh State on Feb. 13, when Tarun Mishra, 32, who had worked for a Hindi-language daily, was shot dead.

According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, a total of 38 journalists have been killed in India since 1992, prompting Reporters without Borders to designate it the world’s sixth deadliest country for journalists.

“I urge the government… to enact a special law for the protection of journalists and speedy trials in cases of attacks and assaults on them in special fast-track courts,” CK Prasad, head of the Press Council of India and a former Supreme Court judge, was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, for his part, who is also responsible for the government’s Information and Broadcasting portfolio, likewise condemned the recent spate of killings and has demanded an independent investigation. READ MORE OF THIS STORY

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About Cholo Brooks 14321 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.