Three unidentified men on November 12, 2016, shot Singh, a reporter for the national, Hindi-language newspaper Dainik Bhaskar, near his home in Sasaram, in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, Ajit Kumar, a local journalist and a friend of Singh’s, told CPJ. Singh died in an ambulance on the way to a hospital in the city of Benaras, Kumar said.
“[Singh] used to report fearlessly about the illegal stone-cutting that’s [been] going on in the Sasaram district for years,” Arun Pandey, political editor of Dainik Bhaskar in Patna, the state capital of Bihar, told CPJ. “Whenever the administration found a nexus between [police] officials and this stone-cutting mafia, Dharmendra used to write about it. So we think that it is because of his reporting that he lost his life.” Pandey said that he and his colleagues at the newspaper did not know of any threats Singh might have received before his murder.
Kumar, Singh’s friend, told CPJ that Singh’s family told police investigating the crime that they believed that two jailed men who blamed the reporter for their convictions had ordered the murder: “Because he was a crime reporter, [Singh] had good relations with police officers. Criminals…thought he was a police informer.” Kumar said Singh had told police that one such man might try to harm him. Before Singh died, Kumar said, the journalist told his nephew that a jailed man who blamed the journalist’s reporting for his conviction was responsible for the shooting attack.
Pandey said that the police chief promised that a special team would investigate the murder. A report in The New Indian Express newspaper said that MS Dhilon, superintendent of police in Rohtas district, would lead the investigation.