India should investigate journalist murder in Uttar Pradesh

New York, August 28, 2013–Indian authorities must investigate the motives behind the murder of a local journalist in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh last week, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Unidentified assailants on a motorcycle shot Rakesh Sharma, a senior reporter working for a Hindi-language daily, on Friday night in the Bakewar town of the Etawah district, police told local journalists. The journalist was taken to a local hospital, where doctors confirmed his death, the reports said.

Sharma, 50, had left his home after receiving a call from an unknown number, his family told reporters. Police said they were investigating the attack and that they suspected the murder was in relation to what they called “animosity toward the journalist,” but did not offer further details.

Aaj Tak news channel reported that the journalist worked for a Hindi-language daily Aaj (Today). Local journalists said they believed Sharma had been targeted by a local gambling mafia for a critical report the journalist had published on illegal gambling operations.

“We call on Indian authorities to swiftly investigate the motives behind this murder and bring the perpetrators to justice,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “India has long been known for its vibrant and diverse press, but it is increasingly gaining an international reputation as a violent place for journalists to work.”

Sharma’s murder took place in the home district of the state’s chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav. Local journalists have criticized the minister for what they perceive as a lack of security for journalists working in the minister’s own district.

CPJ research shows that at least 29 journalists have been killed in relation to their work in India since the organization began keeping records in 1992. With six unsolved journalist murders in the past 10 years, India ranked 12th on CPJ’s 2013 Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are murdered regularly and killers go free. All of the victims were print journalists who reported on crime, corruption, or politics.

The recent rape of a photojournalist working in Mumbai has drawn international attention to the lack of security for journalists working in the country.

  • For more data and analysis on India, visit CPJ’s India page here.