3 journalists killed in 2 days in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh: Police launch inquiries as politicos condemn assault on fourth estate

Three journalists were killed in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh over the past two days under suspicious circumstances, according to several media reports. On Sunday night, two journalists died after an SUV rammed into their bike in Bihar's Bhojpur district and on Monday, another scribe in Madhya Pradesh's Bhind district was run over by a truck.

In Bihar, families of the victims — identified as Navin Nishchal and his associate Vijay Singh — alleged they were murdered by the former village village head. Rajesh, brother of Navin, who worked for a Hindi daily, alleged in the FIR that former panchayat mukhiya Ahmed Ali alias Harsu, and his son Dabloo, were behind the incident, the police said.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Police added that the SUV was driven by Harsu, and it was alleged in the FIR that Harsu had been nursing a grouse against Nishchal.

Efforts are still underway to nab the father and son duo who are absconding, police said, adding that villagers vandalised the house of the ex-village head after the incident. Security was heightened in the village where the situation is tense but under control.

"The incident smacks of a well-hatched conspiracy to murder the journalists by ramming an SUV on them so that it will look like an accident," The Hindu quoted villagers as saying. The SUV was later set on fire, allegedly by the suspects in order to remove evidence.

The report added that a group of people staged a protest on the state highway with the bodies of Nishchal and Singh, and demanded immediate arrest of the accused. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Bhai Birendra said, "Even the fourth pillar of our democracy is not safe in Bihar under the Nitish Kumar government… we demand the immediate arrest of those involved in the incident."

In Madhya Pradesh, 35-year-old journalist Sandeep Sharma, who was investigating illegal sand mining cases in Bhind district, was mowed down by a truck, even after having alerted the police about a threat to his life. He is survived by his wife and two children, aged 14 and 15.

The incident, where the scribe was crushed under the truck while riding a two-wheeler, was reportedly caught on CCTV camera. The truck driver was arrested later Monday.

According to a report in The Times of India, Sharma filed the complaint after he carried out a sting operation against a police officer. The report added that Sharma filed a story with a national news channel accusing the officer of being involved with the sand mafia.

According to ANI, the police formed an SIT (Special Investigation Team).  Indian Express reported that Bhind SP Prashant Khare said an offence under Section 304 (A) (causing death by negligence) has been registered.

Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia also reacted to the death of the journalist, saying "nothing less than a CBI inquiry" should be held. "He was killed in broad daylight. Nothing less than a CBI inquiry should be done. Media is the fourth pillar of democracy and that is being crushed under BJP's rule," Scindia said.

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Updated Date: Mar 27, 2018 15:18:40 IST

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