New Delhi, March 6, 2020 — Indian authorities must swiftly and transparently investigate an attack on journalist M. Karthi and hold those responsible to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
At about 8:30 p.m. on March 3, an unidentified man stopped Karthi, a reporter at the Tamil-language weekly Kumudam, in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu state, and said, “Will you publish news, you bastard? I will kill you today,” and then hit Karthi in his head and face with an iron rod, according to news reports, Karthi’s official complaint to police, which CPJ reviewed, and local reporter K. Rajendran, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.
Karthi shouted to passersby, prompting the assailant to flee the scene, according to the complaint. He wrote that he saw two other men standing nearby, and did not know if they were connected to the attack.
Karthi lost eight teeth in the attack and received severe cuts on his head, his daughter, K. Rajalakshmi, told local outlet The Lede. He is undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Sivakasi, Rajendran told CPJ.
In his police complaint, Karthi wrote that he believed the attack was related to his reporting on a dispute between two ruling party politicians in the region, Raja Varman, a local lawmaker, and K.T. Rajenthira Bhalaji, a minister with the state government. Karthi had just finished a particularly tense phone call with Bhalaji before the attack, he wrote in the complaint.
“Tamil Nadu police must swiftly bring to justice all those responsible for the brutal and brazen attack on journalist M. Karthi,” said Aliya Iftikhar, CPJ’s senior Asia researcher. “Journalists should never be attacked for their reporting, and authorities have a responsibility to ensure that journalists can work safely in Tamil Nadu.”
On March 4, police detained two suspects for questioning in relation to the attack, including an official in Tamil Nadu’s ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party, who is also a suspect in a 2017 journalist killing, according to news reports.
CPJ texted Bhalaji, his assistant Ravichandran, and Director General of Police J.K. Tripathy for comment, but did not receive any responses.
In June 2019, unidentified individuals attacked journalist G. Muthuvel with a machete and iron rods in Tamil Nadu state, as CPJ documented at the time.