India: Journalist killed in Assam after writing about corruption

New York, January 10, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in India’s northeastern state of Assam to fully investigate the death of Prahlad Goala, who was apparently murdered on January 6. Goala had recently written a series of articles on corruption in the Assamese-language daily Asomiya Khabar that linked local forestry service officials to timber smuggling.

Local journalists told CPJ police arrested forest warden Zamman Jinnah in connection with the death. He was released on bail. Two other suspects, who are not forestry service employees, are still being held by police, the local journalists added.

Jinnah had made death threats against Goala soon after his articles on corruption in the forestry service appeared, The Assam Tribune reported.

“We condemn the killing of our colleague Prahlad Goala,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We call on the authorities in Assam to conduct a thorough investigation and bring those responsible to justice.”

Goala, 32, was riding a motorcycle near his home in eastern Assam’s Golaghat district when he was apparently rammed by a truck. When police arrived at the scene, they found that Goala had been stabbed several times.

Local journalists’ organizations and civic groups staged a protest in Golaghat on January 10 and called for a full investigation into his death.

CPJ is continuing to investigate the circumstances of Goala’s death to determine whether he was killed in retaliation for his work.