New Delhi, April 19, 2018–Authorities in India’s northeast Meghalaya state must identify and bring to justice those who attacked the house of Patricia Mukhim, editor of the local Shillong Times newspaper, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Two unidentified persons on April 17 threw a gasoline bomb at Mukhim’s house in Shillong city, according to news reports.
The editor told CPJ that she was at home working when she heard a loud explosion at approximately 8:30 p.m. and saw flames outside her window. Mukhim said that one of her neighbors who heard the explosion rushed over to her home and saw two men ride away on a motorcycle. The journalist and her neighbor then found an extinguished gasoline-filled glass bottle, fashioned like a Molotov cocktail, lying on the ground outside her home.
No one was injured in the attack, according to reports and Mukhim.
“A gasoline bomb attack on the house of newspaper editor Patricia Mukhim is a dangerous crime and is clearly designed to intimidate journalists into silence,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler from Washington D.C. “Should a crime like this go unpunished, it would only invite more violence against journalists in India.”
Davis NR Marak, police superintendent for East Khasi Hills district where Shillong is located, told CPJ that police filed a First Information Report (FIR), a police document filed at the start of an investigation in India. Local police are also providing two personal security officers to guard Mukhim and a police team will constantly patrol her house, Marak said.
Mukhim told CPJ she did not know who to suspect. “As journalists, every day we write stories that offend someone,” she said. She has reported critically on limestone mining in Meghalaya and the alleged violent behavior of local student unions.
The journalist said that she received a death threat four or five months ago from an unidentified man in neighboring Manipur state. Mukhim said she reported the death threat to police at the time. However, the journalist dismissed the threat as an isolated incident and refuted the idea that the April 17 gasoline bottle attack was linked.