Indian journalist Chandrika Rai, his wife, and their two teenage children were found bludgeoned to death in their home in Umaria, a town in Madhya Pradesh state in central India, according to news reports. Rai, 42, worked for the Hindi-language daily Navbharat and The Hitavada, an English-language daily.
Six people were arrested in connection with the murder, according to news reports. A Madhya Pradesh Special Task Force police official told reporters that Rai had blackmailed the members of a gang responsible for a recent kidnapping, and was murdered by the kidnappers.
But Rai's relatives and advocates were skeptical of these conclusions, and believed his murder may have been related to his work. The journalist had been investigating illegal mining in Umaria, which lies in a prominent coal-mining region of the country, Shalabh Bhadoria, president of Madhya Pradesh Union of Working Journalists, a local press freedom group, told CPJ.
Mithilesh Rai, the journalist's brother, said their family did not believe the murder was related to illegal mining or to the kidnapping plot and said the police investigation "has not been to our satisfaction," according to news reports.
Madhya Pradesh Congress Chief Kantilal Bhuria accused the state government of protecting powerful people associated with the mining mafia and said there was "something amiss" in the case, news reports said. The journalist union told CPJ they were pushing for authorities to hand the case over to the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's main investigative agency, rather than relying on local police.