August 21, 2000
His Excellency Atal Behari Vajpayee
Prime Minister, Republic of India
Office of the Prime Minister
New Delhi, India 110 011
VIA FACSIMILE: +91-11-301-6857
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is alarmed by the murder of Thounaojam Brajamani Singh, editor of the English-language daily Manipur News, who was killed yesterday in Manipur State.
At around 10:20 p.m. on August 20, Mr. Brajamani was on his way home by scooter, when two men, also riding a scooter, forced him to a stop on Meino Leirak road, in the Sagolband area of the state capital, Imphal. The editor was accompanied by Henry Salam, a computer operator, whom the assassins told to stand back and look away.
Mr. Brajamani was shot twice in the back of the head at point-blank range, according to CPJ sources in Manipur, who added that the motive for the killing remains unknown.
On August 15, just days before the murder, an anonymous caller had threatened the editor's daughter over the phone, warning her to begin preparations for her father's funeral rites. On August 17, Mr. Brajamani published a brief news item about the threat in his paper. The next day, he published an editorial inviting the caller to contact him again so that any "conflicts of mind . . . may be negotiated," according to a report today by the Press Trust of India news agency.
Local journalists gathered today at the Imphal Press Club to honor Mr. Brajamani and condemn his murder. As a mark of respect, the late editor's colleagues voted that the editorial columns of local newspapers should appear blank tomorrow, August 22. They also voted to suspend publication of the state's newspapers for one day, on August 23.
The Manipur News was founded 25 years ago, and Mr. Brajamani was known as the "pioneer of English journalism in Manipur," one local journalist told the Agence France-Presse news agency. He was also a media activist, and helped found the Journalists Front Manipur to unite the often-fractious journalistic community.
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of our colleagues around the world, CPJ is deeply saddened by the murder of Thounaojam Brajamani Singh. We urge Your Excellency to ensure that a prompt and thorough investigation is undertaken in this case, so that Mr. Brajamani's killers may be brought to justice.
We thank you for your attention to this urgent matter, and await your response. Sincerely,
Ann K. Cooper