‘India is Asia’s deadliest country for media personnel,’ said a 2015 report. Since senior Kannada journalist Gauri Lankesh’s death in Bengaluru on Tuesday, critics have been raising questions on the safety of writers and journalists.
Lankesh called herself an ‘activist-journalist’ and was an outspoken critic of right-wing Hindutva politics. Her death is being counted as the latest in a string of murders of ‘rationalist’ writers.
He died in Mumbai on February 20. Leftist leader and a prominent activist and rationalist, Pansare was shot dead by two unidentified persons in February 2014 when he was returning home from his morning walk in Kolhapur. Sanatan Sanstha activist Samir Gaikwad was arrested in connection with the murder, and later granted bail.
MM Kalburgi :
The 77-year-old outspoken rationalist was killed by two unidentified men at his residence in Dharwad, Karnataka in September 2015. The incident sent shock waves across the Kannada literary world and elsewhere in Karnataka.
Narendra Dabholkar :
A prominent anti-superstition crusader, Dabholkar, was allegedly gunned down by two bike-borne men during his morning walk in Pune on August 20, 2013
According to a CBI charge sheet filed in September last year, Akolkar and Pawar, two members of the right-wing organisation Sanatan Sanstha, gunned down the rationalist. In June 2014, the case was handed over to the CBI after the Pune police failed to make any headway.
Jagendra Singh :
A freelance journalist died in June 2015 from burn injuries after a police raid at his residence in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh. Before his death, Singh alleged cops had barged into his house and set him on fire. He also accused Samajwadi Party leader Rammurti Singh Verma of ‘unleashing’ terror for writing against him. Singh published investigative reports and comments against the minister on social media, an NDTV report said.
However, a month after the incident, Singh’s son gave a clean chit to Verma and said his father had immolated himself.
Ranjan Rajdeo :
Ranjan, a journalist with Hindi daily Hindustan, was shot from close range by assailants on a motorcycle in May last year. He headed the paper’s bureau in Siwan, Bihar and had written extensively on the case involving Shrikant Bharti an aide of BJP MP Om Prakash Yadav who was shot dead in 2014.
The crime came a day after a Hindi television journalist was shot dead in Jharkhand. Akhilesh Pratap worked for Taza TV, a local Hindi news channel.
Sai Reddy :
In December 2013, assailants stabbed Sai Reddy (51), a reporter for the Hindi newspaper Deshbandhu, as he left a market in Basaguda village in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. He died as he was being moved to the hospital.
He was arrested and charged for his alleged connection with Maoists, but was released on bail in 2008. Police said they suspected Maoists were behind the fatal attack.