Dangerous pursuit: In India, journalists who cover corruption may pay with their lives

In the 27 cases of journalists murdered for their work in India since CPJ began keeping records in 1992, there have been no convictions. More than half of those killed reported regularly on corruption. The cases of Jagendra Singh, Umesh Rajput, and Akshay Singh, who died between 2011 and 2015, show how small-town journalists face greater risk in their reporting than those from larger outlets, and how India’s culture of impunity is leaving the country’s press vulnerable to threats and attacks. A special report by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Published August 29, 2016


About this report


Foreword: Journalism as well as journalists in danger from failure to stand up for India’s press

Introduction: Impunity and lack of solidarity expose India’s journalists to attack

Since 1992, 27 journalists have been murdered in India with complete impunity, CPJ records show. This has created a challenging environment for the press, especially small-town journalists and those reporting on corruption, who are often more vulnerable to attack and whose legitimacy is questioned when they are threatened or killed. An overwhelmed justice system and lack of media solidarity add to the problems facing India’s press.

1. Jagendra Singh: discredited after death

Before dying from extensive burn injuries in June 2015, freelance Jagendra Singh accused a police officer of setting him on fire. Local police disputed his account and tried to downplay his journalistic credentials. More than a year later, the case is still being investigated at state-level and no arrests have been made.

Sidebar: Pursuit of truth comes at heavy price for India’s Right to Information activists.

2. In search of justice for Umesh Rajput

Umesh Rajput, a reporter with the Hindi-language daily Nai Dunia, was shot dead outside his home in January 2011. The investigation into his murder has been marked by delays and key evidence has gone missing, his family’s lawyer says. The case was finally handed to the Central Bureau of Investigation, but Rajput’s family is still waiting for justice.

3. The mysterious death of Akshay Singh

Akshay Singh, an investigative reporter for the prominent India Today Group, was working on one of the country’s largest corruption scandals when he unexpectedly died during an interview. In part because of his high profile, Singh’s case was moved to the Central Bureau of Investigation relatively quickly: a marked contrast to the way the deaths of the other journalists featured in this report were handled.


Appendix: Journalists murdered between 1992 and July 2016.

In print: Download the PDF

PHOTO: A composite, from left, shows a vigil for India Today Group reporter Akshay Singh; the widow of freelancer Jagendra Singh, with a potrait of her husband; and a rare photograph of reporter Umesh Rajput. (AP, CPJ/Sumit Galhotra, Family handout)