Nava Thakuria is a Northeast India journalist, based in Guwahati, who contributes to NewsBlaze and various media outlets throughout the world. Nava is also secretary of the Journalists' Forum Assam.

India Loses Two Scribes to Assailants Within a Week, Condemnations Pour In

Guwahati: India has lost two rural journalists within a week to assailants diminishing the image of world’s largest democracy in the press freedom index. Local journo-bodies, national media organisations and also international media rights bodies have raised voices for proper probes into the incidents so that the culprits can be punished under the law.

Manish Kumar Singh

The recent sad news broke from Bihar, where rural television reporter Manish Kumar Singh was found dead after he went missing for some days. The semi-decomposed body of Manish (30), who worked for Sudarshan news channel, was recovered in Champaran locality on 10 August 2021. His body was mutilated and both of his eyes were removed.

Hailing from Paharpur village, the victim’s father (Sanjay Kumar Singh) is also a journalist engaged with a Hindi newspaper. Both his father and Sudarshan channel editor Suresh Chavhanke lodged police complaints, following which two individuals (Mohammad Arsad Alam and Amarendra Singh) were arrested by the police in connection with the crime.

journalist manish kumar singh killed
Journalist Manish Kumar Singh killed.

Chenna Keshav

Earlier, another television scribe from Andhra Pradesh was killed by two individuals. Chenna Keshav (35), who worked as a reporter with EV5 YouTube channel, was stabbed to death by a suspended police constable (Venkata Subbaiah) along with Nageswara Rao (Nani) on 8 August. It is understood that Keshav was targeted because of his series of reports on corruption and gambling issues.

journalist chenna keshav killed
Journalist Chenna Keshav killed.

The accused policeman faced departmental suspension because of media reports about his illegitimate activities. Hence the police assumed that the reporter was intentionally targeted by the accused after calling him for some discussions. Both culprits were already arrested and a Nandyal court had sent them to 14 days judicial custody.

Global outfits like Geneva based Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), Paris based Reporters sans Frontiers (RSF), New York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Brussels based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Vienna based International Press Institute (IPI), etc also expressed shock at Keshav’s murder and demanded a thorough probe into the incident.

After Keshav’s murder, Manish’s fateful incident came to light as the fourth journo-murder in India this year. Andhra government led YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and Nitish Kumar led Bihar government should  punish the culprits under relevant laws. There must be no impunity, commented Blaise Lempen, general secretary of PEC.

Last year, India recorded the highest number of journalists killed worldwide with 15 fatalities among 92 media persons killed in different countries. PEC documents 48 journalists who lost their lives across the globe since 1st January this year, where Afghanistan tops the list with 6 journo-victims (including Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui, who was killed there by the Taliban) followed by Mexico & Pakistan (4 each).

Ashu Yadav and Sulabh Srivastava

“Two journalists (Ashu Yadav and Sulabh Srivastava) lost their lives in the country to perpetrators during the first half of 2021. However, it witnessed more than 270 journalists who fell victim to the Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020,” said the PEC’s India representative, adding that the government should consider formulating special protection laws for media persons at the earliest.