New York, December 10, 2013--Indian authorities must conduct a swift and efficient investigation into the murder of a veteran journalist on Friday, and ensure the perpetrators are held responsible, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Assailants beat and stabbed Sai Reddy, 51, a reporter for the Hindi-language newspaper Deshbandhu, as he left a market in Basaguda village in the central state of Chhattisgarh, news reports said. He sustained severe head and neck injuries, and died as he was being transported to a local hospital, reports said.
Police said they believed Reddy was attacked by a group of Maoist insurgents with sharp weapons, news accounts reported. It is unclear what police evidence points to the Maoists as perpetrators.
Reddy covered local issues such as health, education, water supply, food distribution, and corruption, and often criticized the government, Maoist insurgents, security forces, and local police, The Hindu said citing journalists who knew him.
Maoists have led an insurgency in the central tribal areas of India for more than four decades. Journalists are frequently targeted by both Maoists and government forces in the states affected by the conflict, CPJ research shows.
The journalist had been threatened by Maoists in the past and his house was set on fire, which forced him to flee to a neighboring state, according to The Times of India. He was allowed to return home after issuing an apology to the Maoists, the report said.
News accounts reported that Reddy had also been harassed by the police. In March 2008, he was arrested and accused of being linked with the Maoists. He denied the allegations and was later released on bail.
"Journalists in Chhattisgarh have become targets in the conflict between the Indian state and the Maoists for simply reporting the realities on the ground," said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz. "Instead of acting as passive bystanders, the government must act decisively to reverse the violence against journalists."
Earlier this year, journalist Nemi Chand Jain was also slain in Chhattisgarh. Forty-five days after his murder, Maoists took responsibility for the attack and apologized, but the perpetrators remain at large, according to The Hoot, a South Asian media watchdog, and news reports.
- For more data and analysis on India, visit CPJ's India page here.