Senior journalist, editor, and activist Gauri Lankesh was killed by unidentified assailants at the doorstep of her Bengaluru residence on Tuesday evening, September 5. She was found dead with four bullets wounds on her head and chest. Out of the seven bullets fired at her, three hit her. Lankesh was the Editor of Gauri Lankesh Patrike and would often write against Sangh organisations and communal violence in India. In November 2016, she was convicted in two cases of criminal defamation filed against a story her magazine published in 2008. Her death throws focus on the perils of being a journalist in the country.
According to the reports of Reporter Without Borders, after Syria and Iraq, India is the third unsafe country for journalists. In India, we call ‘Press’ the fourth estate of democracy. It is also the most unsafe bunch of people in the country. The profession neither offers good remuneration nor any safety. Gauri Lankesh’s killing is not the first incident when a journalist was killed because of her profession, in the past several journalists were killed and made headlines. In fact, in several cases, the people behind the crime are still at large.
In November 2016, Dainik Bhaskar reporter was shot dead when three bike-borne assailants opened fire at him while he was standing at a roadside tea stall during his morning walk in Bihar. Singh used to write frequently on local stone chips mafia and had received several threats. Within a month, two people were arrested in connection with the case.
In May 2016, TV journalist Indradev Yadav also known as Akhilesh Pratap Yadav was shot dead near his home while he was on his motorcycle in Chatra district in Jharkhand. Yadav worked as a local correspondent for Kolkata-based Hindi news channel Taaza TV. The Jharkhand CM announced a financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh to Yadav’s family.
According to a report, the Chatra Police while claiming to solve the murder mystery revealed that the Maoists splinter group Tritiya-Sammelan Prastuti Committee (TPC) had demanded Rs 7 lakh from the journalist as levy. He was killed when he did not agree to pay them.
In May 2016, 42-year-old Rajdev Ranjan, the Bureau Chief of Dainik Hindustan, was killed when he was returning home from the office on a bike in Siwan in Bihar. Two bullets were shot, one hit on his head and the other on the neck. Ranjan had reported against former RJD MP Mohammad Shahabuddin at least four times. Shahabuddin was serving a life imprisonment in connection with the murder of two brothers. On August 22, 2017, the CBI filed a charge sheet against Shahabuddin and six other in connection with the murder case.
On February 13, 2016, Tarun Mishra, Bureau chief of the Jan Sandesh Times – a Hindi newspaper in Sultanpur was killed in broad daylight. Mishra was driving to Sultanpur with his uncle when two gunmen on a motorcycle stopped the car and shot Mishra. He was rushed to the hospital but was declared dead on arrival. According to Uttar Pradesh Journalist Union, Mishra was targeted for writing against illegal activities in Uttar Pradesh. The then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav ordered an inquiry and announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to his family.
Hemant Yadav who used to work with a local news channel was shot by bike-borne assailants in Uttar Pradesh’s Chandauli district in October 2015. Yadav was socially active and used to report on local issues.
Sandeep Kothari was a freelance crime journalist for Nai Duniya. He exposed illegal mining and land grabbing and had also informed police about the several threats he used to receive. On June 20, 2015, he was abducted, strangled and was burnt alive. His body was recovered on a railroad track in Nagpur. Police rounded up three youth who later confessed to the crime.
Jagendra Singh was a freelance journalist in Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur who ran a Facebook page ‘Shahjahanpur Samachar’. Singh wrote extensively about UP Minister Ram Murti Verma regarding corruption and the plight of an Anganwadi worker who alleged that she was gang-raped by Verma. On June 1, 2015, he was burnt alive by cops and goons at his residence. Following Singh’s death, Verma was booked for murder, criminal intimidation, and criminal conspiracy.
Akshay Singh was an investigative journalist with Aaj Tak channel. In 2015, he was in Madhya Pradesh to investigate the unnatural deaths in the Vyapam scam but died under mysterious circumstances. The 36-year-old died shortly after he interviewed the parents of a girl who was found dead after her name figured in the scam.
MVN Shankar was a senior journalist for Andhra Prabha, a Telugu language daily. On November 25, 2014, he was attacked by unidentified assailants with iron rods. He died a day later. Days before he was attacked he wrote about the kerosene oil mafia in Guntur.
Tarun Kumar Acharya
Acharya was a stringer for a local Oriya-language TV channel. He was killed on May 27, 2014, in Odisha while he was on his way to home in Ganjam district when a few assailants stopped him and slit his throat killing him on the spot. The 29-year-old was killed because of his report of child labour in a cashew processing factory. The police later arrested the mastermind, Prusty, owner of the cashew-nut processing factory.