New Delhi, May 8, 2017–Authorities in India must investigate and bring to justice those responsible for an attack on freelance journalist Rama Reddy, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Reddy, a TV reporter, was attacked in apparent retaliation for his reporting on illegal sand mining, according to a report in The New Indian Express.
Reddy, who lives in the Eluru district of Andhra Pradesh state, was attacked in his home around midnight on May 3 by about four unidentified individuals, according to reports. The assailants knocked on the journalist’s door and questioned him about his reports on sand mining, before beating him and his mother with iron rods, and then fleeing, the reports said. The journalist’s head and legs were injured in the attack.
The English-language news website Video Samachar and INews, a 24-hour Telugu language news channel for which Reddy works, both reported today that arrests have been made. CPJ was unable to confirm further details about the arrests with the police.
“Indian authorities must prosecute those responsible for the assault on Rama Reddy,” said Steven Butler, CPJ program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “Authorities have a responsibility to protect citizens, including journalists. The press should be able to do its job without fear of attack or retaliation.”
Ranjeet, a journalist at Inews who identified himself to CPJ by only his first name, said that the attack was likely linked to Reddy’s reporting on illegal sand mining. The news outlet filmed a debate in Telugu about the attack on him. Ranjeet added that Reddy spent four days at the hospital and has now been discharged. He described Reddy’s condition as stable. CPJ was unable to locate a telephone number to contact Reddy directly.
Manikyala Rao, a minister in the Andhra Pradesh government, visited Reddy in hospital on May 4 and journalists in the district protested against the attack, according to The New Indian Express. CPJ attempted to call the local police station and PVS Ramakrishna, the inspector-general of police, multiple times for comment but the officer who answered the phone did not speak English or Hindi.
Journalists who expose illegal sand mining in India are vulnerable to attack. In February, CPJ recorded how supporters of Amanchi Krishna Mohan, a legislator representing Chirala district, attacked M. Nagarjuna Reddy, a freelance journalist in Andhra Pradesh state. Reddy had alleged that the legislator was involved in sand-mining. In 2015, Sandeep Kothari, a freelance journalist from Madhya Pradesh state, was abducted and killed. The journalist’s family told reporters at the time they believed he was killed over his reports on illegal sand mining. CPJ is investigating to determine if his death was related to his work.