Sushil Pathak

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Unidentified gunmen shot dead Sushil Pathak, a senior journalist with Dainik Bhaskar and general secretary of the Bilaspur Press Club when he was returning home from a late shift at work in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, according to reports. Pathak was shot four times.

Pathak covered several areas, including corruption and politics. CPJ research shows journalists working in the state cover a range of sensitive issues and are at risk of harassment, attacks, or being killed for reporting on sensitive subjects.

A Facebook page “Justice for coal scam whistleblower journalist Sushil Pathak” set up in June 2016 said Pathak was killed after reporting on allegations of illegal mining in the area. A post on the page said Pathak had investigated a multi-billion dollar coal scam and other sensitive political stories. The page administrator did not immediately respond to CPJ’s request for comment.

Journalist Nitin Sinha, who is also based in Chhattisgarh, told the citizen journalists’ website Youth Ki Awaaz in 2011 that Pathak was killed after publishing a sensitive story.

Police initially said that Pathak may have been killed because of real estate interests.

In February 2011, following weeks of protests by journalists unions and opposition parties, who blamed police for failing to resolve the case, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh agreed to calls for an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation, reports said. The bureau began its investigation in the case in September 2011, according to local reports.

After Pathak’s wife and members of the Bilaspur Press Club filed a motion in the Bilaspur High Court, the court ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to file a response within three weeks, reports said.

In August 2015, the high court ordered the bureau to complete the investigation in 12 weeks, reports said.