Authorities in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh must swiftly and thoroughly investigate the killing of journalist Raman Kashyap and hold those responsible to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Yesterday, Kashyap, a freelance journalist who contributed to the local news channel Sadhna TV, was found dead from injuries he sustained while covering a protest the previous day by local farmers that turned violent, according to multiple news reports and a local reporter familiar with his case who asked not to be named citing fear of reprisal.
Kashyap was covering a protest in the city of Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3 that turned into violent clashes after an official’s car allegedly ran over several protesters, according to those sources. Kashyap went missing during the violence and his family identified his body at a local morgue yesterday, according to the Hindustan Times and Hindi-language news website The Lallantop. CPJ was unable to determine the circumstances of Kashyap’s death.
“Authorities in Uttar Pradesh must thoroughly investigate the death of journalist Raman Kashyap, make public the results of such an investigation, and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “Journalists should never need to face death while covering events of public interest, and authorities desperately need to do a better job safeguarding members of the press at protests.”
Clashes broke out at the protest upon the arrival of Ajay Kumar Mishra, the minister of state for home affairs, whose car hit some of the protesting farmers, according to those news reports and Mandeep Punia, a journalist with the news website Gaon Savera, who is familiar with the case and spoke to CPJ over the phone.
Nine people, including Kashyap, were killed in the subsequent fighting, and police have opened a murder investigation into Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra, who allegedly drove the car, according to multiple news reports.
CPJ could not find contact information for Ashish Mishra, and his father did not respond to an email seeking comment. In an interview with India Today, Mishra denied that his son had any connection to the violence and said that neither he nor his son were at the location where the clashes broke out.
CPJ texted Uttar Pradesh Police Director-General Hitesh Awasthy for comment, but did not receive any reply.
On June 13, Sulabh Srivastava, a reporter with the privately owned broadcasters ABP News and ABP Ganga in Uttar Pradesh, died after he had reportedly been threatened for his recent work, as CPJ documented at the time.