In an Independent India, the press and the journalists have always played a vital role in showing the real scene of the nation to the top authorities. The press has been acting as a bridge between the people and the government, sometimes being the voice of the common man against injustice or sometimes being a representative of the government in creating awareness. The press is thus, identified as a significant instrument of connection and communication between the public and the government.
But as we all are aware, this job is not as easy as it seems for it comes with so many responsibilities. And what comes with these responsibilities are life taking risks. And the worst time in the history of Indian Journalism was the year 2015, as nine reporters lost their lives to their work. According to an annual report by Reporters Without Borders in 2015, India was among the first three most dangerous countries for journalists leaving Pakistan and Afghanistan far behind. During the period from 1992 to 2016, according to the non-profitable Committee To Protect Journalists, 70 journalists in India were brutally killed and the motives behind many of their deaths remain unidentified. Today, we bring to you 6 such stories of journalists who were found dead in mysterious circumstances.
1. Gauri Lankesh
Lankesh was a 55 year old journalist turned activist form Bangalore, Karnataka. Working as an editor at the Lankesh Patrike, a Karnataka weekly and also a strong critic of Hindu right-wing’s extremist ideologies and their organisations. On an unfortunate evening of September 5, 2017, Lankesh was shot dead outside her residence in Bangalore. This incident involved three unidentified men that fired at her at least seven times. The bullets hit her head, neck and her chest resulted in her death on the spot. Though she was given a state funeral the next day, her death was followed by a lot of political buzz and parties blaming each other. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) this year had arrested 6 people of an extremist gang as the suspects. The investigation still continues.
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2. Jyotirmoy Dey or The J Dey case
The J. Dey case has been one of the most talked case of journalist assassination of all times. J Dey was a crime and investigations editor at the Mid-day and had also taken great interest in the mysteries and truths of Mumbai’s underworld. Dey’s this journey of discovering and exposing underworld in Mumbai led to his death on 11 June 2011 when he was shot dead by 4 unidentified gunmen while on a motorcycle at Hiranandani Gardens in Powai. By the time he was rushed to the hospital, he was declared dead on arrival. It was later found that it was a professional job done by some of the history sheeters who were caught 16 days after the incident. These shooters were from the Mumbai Mafia Chhota Rajan’s gang who was convicted this year in May for the list of crimes he committed including Dey’s murder.
3. Sandeep Kothari
He is another name in the list of unfortunate deaths of press professionals. Kothari, a 40 year old tehsil from Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh was a correspondent for various Jabalpur based Hindi Dailies. Working on exposing the said region’s sand mining mafia and illegal land grabbing, Kothari had filed a case against some people involved in this business. Sandeep’s friend had reported his missing complaint when he was abducted while he was with his friends. Three suspects were arrested in this case who later confessed to Kothari’s abduction and murdering him by burning him alive.
4. Akshay Singh
An Aaj Tak reporter who was covering the Vyapam Scam was declared dead on arrival in a hospital in Gujarat on July 3, 2015. According to an India Today report, Singh who had interviewed the parents of a girl who was found dead on railway track after her name was related with the scam. After the interview while waiting outside the girl’s residence, Singh was suddenly found ill with his mouth frothing. Though the postmortem reports declared no foul play in Singh’s death, the circumstances still remain mysterious.
5. Jagendra Singh
Another name in 2015’s cases is of a freelance journalist Jagendra Singh. In June of 2015, Singh was found with severe burn injuries at his residence in Uttar Pradesh. According to a Hindustan Times report, from his words, before his death, cops had barged into his house and set him on fire. The bigger news was that Singh had also accused Samajwadi Party leader, Rammurti Singh Verma for “unleashing” terror as Singh was known for writing against him in his investigative reports and also for his comments on the social media against the party leader. However, a month later, Singh’s son gave a statement that his father’s death was a result of immolation.
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6. Rajan Rajdeo
A journalist who worked at Hindustan Daily in Siwan, Bihar was shot dead by gunmen on a bike near Siwan Railway Station in May 2016. Rajdeo’s death received significant Media coverage as political names were involved. Rajan had covered extensively in his writings about the Shrikant Bharti case. Bharti who was shot dead in 2014 was an aide to the BJP MP Om Prakash Yadav. The person behind Rajdeo’s murder was suspected to be the former MP of Siwan Shahbuddin who was already in incarceration and barred from contesting elections.