New Delhi, June 15, 2021 — Authorities in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh must conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the death of journalist Sulabh Srivastava, and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On the evening of June 13, Srivastava, a reporter with the privately owned broadcasters ABP News and ABP Ganga, was declared dead at a hospital in Pratapgarh district, shortly after local laborers found his body near a brick kiln, according to news reports.
Police initially said that he died in a motorcycle accident on his way home after reporting, but following a postmortem inspection and amid reports that he had been threatened for his recent work, yesterday announced that they were opening a criminal investigation into his death, according to news reports and a police press release, which CPJ reviewed.
“Authorities in India’s Uttar Pradesh state must conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the death of journalist Sulabh Srivastava, determine whether he was killed in retaliation for his work, and hold those responsible to account,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “The Uttar Pradesh government needs to ensure that all threats to journalists are investigated fully, and that critical reporting does not become a death sentence.”
The day before his death, Srivastava had filed a complaint with the police over threats he received in response to his June 9 reporting on a criminal liquor-selling group, according to reports by The Hindu and The Wire. In his complaint, which was addressed to the Prayagraj zone additional director-general of police, Srivastava claimed that he was being followed and that he had heard from his sources that the criminal group was planning to harm him for his reporting, according to those reports.
Yesterday, Renuka Srivastava, the journalist’s wife, also said that he had received threats in the last few days, according to reports.
CPJ texted Uttar Pradesh Police Director-General Hitesh Awasthy for comment, but did not receive any reply.
Last year in Uttar Pradesh, journalist Rakesh Singh died of burn injuries after his house was set on fire, allegedly by a local politician unhappy with his reporting, and Shubham Mani Tripathi was shot and killed after reporting on a land dispute, according to CPJ research.