Yadagiri, a veteran journalist and staff correspondent for the local,
Telugu-language daily Andhra Prabha, was stabbed to death near
his home in the town of Medak, in India’s southern Andhra Pradesh
State. Local journalists told CPJ that Yadagiri, 35, was murdered
in reprisal for his articles investigating the illegal sale of home-brewed
liquor, known locally as toddy.
Local sources told CPJ that Yadagiri had written a series of articles
detailing the dangers of consuming toddy and accusing local politicians
of being involved in its trade. The national English-language newspaper
The Hindu reported that prior to his death, Yadagiri
had registered a police complaint after he received threats from a
local contractor involved in the illegal toddy business.
According to local sources, on the night of February 21, Yadagiri
was invited to a meeting with several people involved in the toddy
trade. After the meeting, Yadagiri was accompanied home by at least
three of the men who had been present, along with Siddaram Reddy,
another local journalist and friend of Yadagiri. Lakshminarayana Goud,
one of those accompanying Yadagiri, stabbed him multiple times before
fleeing the scene, according to local news reports and sources.
Local police arrested four suspects and charged them with involvement
in the murder. According to Amar Devulapalli, the head of the Andhra
Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ), Goud was charged, along
with Sirimalle Srinivas, Venkatesh Chauhan, and Nagi Reddy (who is
not related to Siddaram Reddy).
Devulapalli told CPJ that the state government of Andhra Pradesh condemned
the murder and gave money and land to Yadagiri’s family as compensation
for their loss. However, local police have accused Siddaram Reddy
of being the true culprit in the murder and have arrested and charged
him with involvement, Devulapalli said.
APUWJ pressured the federal Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
to investigate the state’s prosecution of Yadagiri’s murder. The CBI
began an inquiry into the handling of the case, postponing the trials
of all the defendants, Devulapalli said.