Rajesh Mishra

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Two assailants hit Mishra on the head with an iron rod while he was at a public tea stall in Rewa town in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, according to local news reports. The journalist died at a local hospital, the reports said.

Mishra, a journalist for the local Hindi-language weekly Media Raj, had written articles on alleged financial irregularities in local schools, according to the news reports. The reports cited the journalist’s family members as saying that he had been threatened during the week leading up to the attack.

Police arrested at least four men for carrying out the murder, including Rajneesh Banerjee, who owned the schools Mishra was covering and a rival Hindi-language weekly, Vindhya Bharat. Vindhya Bharat Editor Anil Tripathi and two other employees were also arrested.

Rewa Superintendent of Police Umesh Joga told the New Delhi-based media watchdog website The Hoot that Banerjee and his associates had retaliated against Mishra in connection with his reports. Vindhya Bharat and Media Raj each had a circulation of about 500 copies, The Hoot reported.

Banerjee was convicted of murder by a court in Rewa and sentenced to life imprisonment under section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, according to Banerjee. At an appeal hearing in January 2015, the Madhya Pradesh High Court granted bail to Banerjee. In its decision, the court said that the main evidence against him was two letters written by Mishra, in which the journalist said he feared Banerjee would kill him. The judges said this was insufficient evidence, adding, “Merely because certain apprehension is made, it cannot be a material for assuming that the appellant has convicted the offence.”

In April 2016, Banerjee told CPJ that his conviction was suspended and he had been granted bail. “I was in my office at that time [when Mishra was killed], yet I was convicted,” he said. His co-accused, Tripathi, was acquitted, he said. Banerjee said he was confident he would also be acquitted because a doctor’s report allegedly said that Mishra was drunk at the time. CPJ was unable to verify his claims.