By Sarmad Ali
(Pakdestiny.com/CPJ) An Indian journalist was beaten by a group of men and dragged behind a motorcycle in Uttar Pradesh state on June 13, in apparent reprisal for his critical reporting, according to reports. The attack comes days after freelance journalist Jagendra Singh was killed in the same state in a case that local police and a minister are accused of being involved in, according to local news reports.
Haider Khan, a stringer for a local TV news channel in Pilibhit district, told reporters he was attacked while following up on what he believed was a tip over the phone about an accident. When Khan arrived at the place mentioned by the caller, he was surrounded by at least five men who beat him, news reports citing Khan’s account said. The journalist said he was hit on the head with a revolver, tied to a motorcycle, and dragged for about 100 meters, according to local reports. The attackers fled and Khan, who was left unconscious, was taken to hospital, reports said.
“The government of Akhilesh Yadav, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, must act decisively to bring to justice the perpetrators of the attack on Haider Khan,” said CPJ Asia Program Research Associate Sumit Galhotra. “Coming on the heels of the murder of another journalist in the same state, it’s essential that authorities send a message that such violence will not be tolerated.”
Khan had recently reported on allegations that a man had seized land from his visually impaired brother, the Times News Network reported. Khan, who said he recognized at least one of his attackers, said he was beaten in retribution for his reporting on the alleged land grab, reports said. A police report has been filed, according to news reports. It is unclear if any arrests have been made.
Last week, freelance journalist Singh died from burn injuries in a hospital in Lucknow. In a filmed statement before he died, Singh alleged that police set him on fire. Singh’s family named Ram Murti Singh Verma, a government official belonging to the ruling Samajwadi Party, in a police complaint about the attack, according to reports. Singh had reported critically on the official in several of his recent Facebook posts. CPJ was not able to reach Verma for response to the allegations against him.
No arrests have yet been made in Singh’s case, although five police officers have been suspended, reports said. Chief Minister Yadav is under pressure from journalists and politicians from other political parties to take action against Verma, reports said.
India has repeatedly failed to advance justice in the cases of journalists working for local print publications that have been slain in connection to their reporting on corruption, politics, or crime, CPJ research shows. India is ranked number 13 on CPJ’s annual Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are murdered and their killers go free. -PakDestiny