Rajesh Verma

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Unidentified assailants fatally shot Rajesh Verma, a part-time stringer for the TV news channel IBN 7, in the chest while he was covering confrontations between Hindus and Muslims in the small city of Muzaffarnagar, according to Ajesh Mohan, senior assistant editor at IBN 7, and local news reports.

Mohan told CPJ that Verma had worked for the station for about five years. Poh Si Teng, a former freelance journalist for Global Post, told CPJ that in the past Verma had also worked as a fixer for the Global Post.

Indian officials said at the time that they had not been able to identify the perpetrator and that they were investigating the fatality.

The clashes erupted following police dispersal of a meeting by Hindu farmers calling for justice in the killings of two Hindu men, according to The New York Times. The victims were believed to have been killed by Muslims, news reports said. Officials said the clashes were also fueled by a false video circulated last week that purportedly showed the two men being lynched. At least 28 people were killed and more than 90 individuals arrested in the violence.

Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh met with Verma’s family and told them the culprits would be held responsible. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav announced financial support of Rs. 1,500,000 (US $23,870) for Verma’s family.

In February 2016, a Special Investigation Team set up to look at cases related to the Muzaffarnagar riots filed a closure report in Verma’s case. The report, which was filed in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate Narendra Kumar, said that the accused remain unidentified.