Uma Singh

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

As many as 15 people with knives attacked Uma Singh, a 27-year-old print and radio reporter, in her home in the southeastern district of Dhanusa, Janakpur zone, near the border with India, according to local and international news reports. Singh died of multiple stab wounds to the head and upper body while being transferred from a local hospital to a larger one later that evening.

Local journalists said police ignored Singh’s profession as a possible motive for fear of political repercussions, and arrested five people, including her sister-in-law, for killing her over a property dispute.

Property did play a role, according to a report compiled by press freedom groups that conducted an investigative mission to Nepal in February. Singh believed Maoists abducted and murdered her father and brother in 2005 and seized family land. But in her reporting, the press freedom groups found, she had defended all victims displaced in the conflict, and addressed sensitive issues including communal violence and women’s rights in print and on air.

“There is no denying that [Singh] may have had a personal stake in the issue of land seizures, but her journalism was exercised in the larger public interest,” the report said. After consulting with police, family members, and colleagues, the groups concluded that although there were several overlapping motives and actors involved, her work was a major factor in her death.

In June 2011, defendants Lalita Singh and Nemlal Paswan were each sentenced to life imprisonment in the killing, according to local news reports. Three others accused of carrying out the attack were acquitted. Police arrested Umesh Yadav, a former Maoist believed to be the mastermind behind Singh’s murder, in September 2013. In April 2015, a court in Dhanusha district convicted Yadav of ordering Singh’s murder and sentenced him to life in prison, according to local news reports and the Federation of Nepali Journalists.