Sulabh Srivastava, a journalist of a private news channel, who had recently reported on the liquor mafia, was found found seriously injured on Katra Road in Uttar Pradesh's Pratapgarh district late Sunday night. He was then rushed to the district hospital where he was declared dead on arrival by the doctors, police said.
"Sulabh Srivastava had gone for news coverage to the Kotwali Lalganj area on Sunday and was returning home late in the night. He was found seriously injured near the Sukhpal Nagar brick kiln and was taken to the district hospital, where doctors declared him dead," Superintendent of Police Akash Tomar told reporters.
His motorcycle rammed into a pole near the brick kiln under the Kotwali police station area in Pratapgarh district, police said.
The 42-year-old reporter had recently run a news story against the liquor mafia, and had on June 12 written a letter to the Prayagraj additional director general of police seeking security.
His wife, Renuka Srivastava, in her police complaint said her husband was being threatened for doing a story against the liquor mafia and the Prayagraj additional director general of police was informed about it in writing but no effective action was taken.
"Because of this, unknown mafia elements murdered my husband on Sunday night while he was returning from Lalganj after news coverage," she said in her complaint.
Meanwhile, the Editors Guild of India said it was "shocked by the cavalier manner in which Uttar Pradesh Police is treating the mysterious death" of Srivastava.
"Srivastava, who had been threatened by the liquor mafia for exposing their wrongdoings, had recently written a letter to the police expressing grave apprehensions for his life. He believed that some people were following him. The authorities paid no heed to his fears. Srivastava died a couple of days after he wrote the letter to the police. The police is passing off his death as being caused by an accident, claiming that his bike rammed into a handpump," the Editors Guild said.
"His death comes at a time when media is facing increasing pressures from central and state governments who insist that they follow the official narrative regarding the administration’s handling of the pandemic. What is further worrying is that the police and the local authorities liberally and unjustifiably use laws such as sedition and UAPA to file charges and arrest journalists," it added.
The Editors Guild said it is "against the spirit of the judgment given by the Supreme Court in Kedar Nath Singh case and reiterated in the recent sedition case against Vinod Dua".
It further said that journalists and cartoonists, who are critical of the government are being targetted on social media. This is contrary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent speech at the G7 Summit, the Editors Guild noted.
"Journalists and cartoonists critical of the government are also being targeted on social media, as pressures are being mounted by the government on these platforms to remove such critical journalists on the specious ground that they are violating the law of the land. All of this is contrary to the commitments that Prime Minister Narendra Modi made at the G-7 summit to democracy, openness and against authoritarianism," the Editors Guild said.
(With PTI inputs)
(If you have a story in and around Mumbai, you have our ears, be a citizen journalist and send us your story here. )