Assailants beat and stabbed Reddy, 51, reporter for the Hindi-language newspaper Deshbandhu, as he left a market in Basaguda village in Bijapur district located in the central state of Chhattisgarh, news reports said. He sustained severe head and neck injuries, and died as he was being transported to a local hospital, reports said.
Reddy possessed a deep understanding of local issues and problems, and was considered a veteran journalist by his colleagues, news accounts said. He covered local issues such as health, education, water supply, food distribution, and corruption, and often criticized the government, Maoist insurgents, security forces, and local police, The Hindu said, citing journalists who knew him.
Police said they believed Reddy was attacked by a group of Maoist insurgents with sharp weapons, news accounts reported. In the days following Reddy’s murder, Maoists claimed responsibility, according to news reports. In their statement, the Maoists accused Reddy of being a police informer, but did not substantiate their claims.
In recent years, Reddy had been threatened by Maoists and his house was set on fire, which forced him to flee to a neighboring state, according to The Times of India. He was allowed to return home after issuing an apology to the Maoists, the report said. Reddy had also been harassed by the police around the same time, according to news reports. In March 2008, he was arrested and accused of being linked to the Maoists. He denied the allegations and was later released on bail.
Four months after the murder, the highest decision-making body of the Maoist party released a statement about the killing. In an April 2014 press statement, the body said there was a “misunderstanding” between members and the party leadership, which led to the killing. The statement by the party said that a decision was taken to kill Sai Reddy for his “anti-people” writing. When police arrested Reddy in 2008 on suspicion of being a Maoist, the party changed its perception of him. This was not conveyed to local members, who killed him, the statement said. No one has been brought to justice in the case.
Journalists in Chhattisgarh are often caught in the tension between Maoists and police and security forces, CPJ research shows. Maoists have led an insurgency in the central tribal areas of India for more than four decades.