Jagendra Singh’s family accuses local minister and a group of policemen of targeting the freelancer.
Amnesty International called on Wednesday for an investigation into the killing of a journalist in northern India who had accused a local politician of being involved in land grabs and corruption.
Jagendra Singh, a freelance journalist, died on Monday, a week after he was set alight in Uttar Pradesh state shortly after publishing an article and posting allegations on Facebook against local minister Ram Murti Singh Verma. The victim’s family alleges that Verma and a group of policemen raided Singh’s home, beat him up and then doused the 42-year-old with petrol and set him alight.
Rights group Amnesty urged the Uttar Pradesh government to initiate an independent investigation in order to bring the attackers to justice. “This horrific attack highlights the dangers that journalists can face in doing their jobs,” Shemeer Babu, programs director of Amnesty International India said in a statement.
While police have opened a case against Verma and five others in connection with the murder, no arrests have yet been made. “We have booked the minister for murder and criminal conspiracy and the investigations are on,” said Vijay Singh Meena, a senior state police official.
The Press Council of India (PCI) also called for a special investigation Wednesday, saying the incident was “an attack on freedom of press.”
India is one of the most restrictive countries for the press, ranked 136 out of 180 nations, according to Paris-based Reporters without Borders. Journalists in the world’s largest democracy often face harassment and intimidation by police, politicians and bureaucrats, while scores work in hostile conditions in the many conflict-ridden pockets of the country.