Journalist shot dead in Bihar

New York, December 1, 2008–The Committee to Protect Journalists mourns the death of Hindu-language daily Hindustan correspondent Vikas Ranjan in the northern Indian state of Bihar on November 25. 

Ranjan was shot in the town of Rosera in the state’s central Samastipur district, according to Alok Mohit, news editor of English-language sister paper the Hindustan Times in Bihar’s capital of Patna, who spoke with CPJ by telephone this morning. Three men on motorbikes fired several shots at Ranjan as he left his office for the evening, according to local news reports. He was declared dead on arrival at the local hospital, the reports said.  

Ranjan’s murder may have been connected to his work as a part-time local correspondent for Hindustan. Mohit, who had spoken with Ranjan’s colleagues in Samastipur, told CPJ that Ranjan wrote extensively on crime and corruption, and had been receiving threats for some time. Three of his recent reports on counterfeit merchandise and stolen goods trafficking had sparked official inquiries, according to Mohit. Police are reportedly investigating the murder.

“We call for the investigation into Vikas Ranjan’s murder to be immediate, thorough, and transparent,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia program coordinator. “Correspondents in remote areas should be protected from attacks made in retribution for their reporting.”

Police in the nearby northeastern Indian state of Assam are still investigating the motive for the murder of local daily Amar Asom correspondent Jagjit Saikia, who was shot dead on November 20. That death appeared to be related to a local insurgency.

India ranks at number 13 on CPJ’s Impunity Index, a list of countries where governments have consistently failed to solve journalists’ murders.