Pandey, who contributed to Hindi-language newspapers, was killed in a shootout between Maoists and state police in Andhra Pradesh, southern district of Adilabad, news reports said. Also killed was Cherukuri Rajkumar, known as Azad, a leader of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), who had been arranging peace talks between Maoists and the central government.
Pandey was employed in the corporate communications department of the Delhi-Assam Roadways Corp, local news reports said. Media reports said he wrote articles under the name of Hemant Pandey in Hindi-language dailies such as Nai Dunia, Dainik Jagaran, and Rastriya Sahara. His last piece, on July 1, had been a commentary on food shortages.
Communist Party spokesperson Gudsa Usendi and Pandey's wife were quoted in news reports as saying the victim was meeting with Azad for an interview. They alleged the two men had been set up by police, local news reports said.
Police identified Pandey as a colleague of Azad. A press release by the Communist Party's north regional bureau said the reporter was a member, although party leaders also called him a journalist in local news reports. The Indian Journalists' Union and the Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists raised "serious doubts about the circumstances" of Pandey's death and demanded an independent inquiry.