CPJ requests information about murdered journalist

New York, April 25, 2002— CPJ today sent a letter of inquiry to Dr. Vishnu Kant Shastri, governor of Uttar Pradesh State, India, requesting information about the April 14 death of journalist Paritosh Pandey.

Pandey, a crime reporter for the Hindi-language daily Jansatta Express, was shot dead at point-blank range at around 10:30 p.m. in his home in the residential neighborhood of Gomtinagar, in Lucknow, according to police. At least six shots were fired at Pandey’s head and chest, and it appears he died instantly.

Ghanshyam Pankaj, editor of the Jansatta Express, told CPJ that because Pandey was reporting regularly on the activities of criminal gangs, it is likely that he was targeted because of his professional work. However, he was uncertain about which articles might have prompted the assassination.

Local journalists have complained that Gomtinagar police were slow to respond to news of Pandey’s murder. Dozens of journalists staged an angry demonstration in the early morning hours of April 15, carrying Pandey’s body to Raj Bhawan, Governor Shastri’s official residence. During this demonstration, a security official hit Manish Srivastava, a reporter with the newspaper Dainik Jagran, with a rifle butt, causing serious injuries.

An official inquiry has been launched to determine whether Gomtinagar police responded adequately to news of the murder, and also to investigate abuses committed by security officers during the journalists’ demonstration at Raj Bhawan.