Sharma, 50, a senior reporter for a Hindi-language daily Aaj (Today), was shot by unidentified assailants on a motorcycle in the Bakewar town of the Etawah district in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, police told local journalists. Sharma had left his home after receiving a call from an unknown number, his family told reporters.
Police said they were investigating the attack. The Hoot, a South Asian media watchdog, reported that investigators said the killing may have been prompted by "personal enmity," but did not offer further details.
Local journalists said they believed Sharma had been targeted by a local gambling mafia for a critical report he had published on illegal gambling operations. Sharat Pradhan, senior journalist and member of the Uttar Pradesh Accredited Journalists Association (UPAJA), told The Hoot that under the ruling Samajwadi Party, there has been a rise in mafia and criminal activity in the state, and suggested that Sharma may have been targeted for his critical reporting against local politicians.
Sharma's murder took place in the home district of the state's chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav. Local journalists criticized the minister for what they perceive as a lack of security for journalists working in the minister's own district.