New York, May 13, 2016 -The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on investigators in the neighboring Indian states of Bihar and Jharkhand to act quickly to bring the killers of journalists Akhilesh Pratap and Rajdev Ranjan to justice.
Unknown men today shot Rajdev Ranjan at close range, according to press reports. Ranjan, the Hindi national daily newspaper Hindustan‘s bureau chief for Siwan, in the central Indian state of Bihar, was hit in the head and the chest, killing him, according to local media. Police told reporters the motive in his murder was not yet clear, but said they were not ruling out organized criminal groups as suspects.
His killing came less than 24 hours after the murder of Akhilesh Pratap, a journalist for Taaza TV in Chatra, in the neighboring state of Jharkhand. According to local media reports, Pratap was returning home on his motorcycle on Thursday night when unidentified gunmen shot him three times, before fleeing. Pratap, better known locally as Indra Dev, died before reaching hospital.
The motive behind Pratap’s killing was also not immediately clear. Local police Deputy Inspector General Upendra Prasad told reporters: “We have formed at least three teams to unravel the incident. The forensic team has also visited the spot.”
“While police investigations into the murders of journalists are welcome, investigations without arrests or tough prison sentences for the killers send the wrong message,” CPJ’s Asia program senior research associate, Sumit Galhotra, said. “India’s abysmal record of prosecuting those who kill journalists is fostering an increasingly dangerous climate for the media.”
CPJ’s data show India is becoming a more dangerous place to practice journalism. Few of those who attack or kill journalists in India are brought to justice, according to CPJ’s research. Of the 11 murders of journalists CPJ has confirmed as work-related in the last 10 years in India, all have been carried out with impunity.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The spelling of Taaza TV has been corrected in the third paragraph of this text.