Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for an independent investigation to establish exactly how TV reporter Raman Kashyap sustained fatal injuries while covering a protest by farmers in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state on 3 October. Those responsible must be brought to justice, RSF says.
Raman Kashyap, who often worked for Sadhna Prime News TV, disappeared after the protest in Lakhimpur Kheri district turned violent and he was not located until his family found his body in a morgue the next day.
The violence erupted when Ajay Kumar Mishra, a local politician who is minister of state in the federal ministry of home affairs, arrived with a convoy of cars, three of which drove into a crowd of protesters who were blocking their way, crushing several people. Kashyap was reportedly injured at this time in circumstances that are still unclear, and died shortly thereafter.
Kashyap’s family, who saw the injuries on his body in the morgue, told The Wire news website they believe he was mown down by one of the cars, and that they have filed a complaint against the minister’s son, Ashish Mishra, who drove one of the cars into the crowd, according to several witnesses. This is disputed by the minister, who says his son was not present at the spot where the violence took place, and accuses the protestors of acting like a lynch mob.
Reporters who were present say they saw hooligans interrupt Kashyap’s filming and give him a beating, according to Telegraph India’s editor. The findings of the autopsy, which have not yet been released, should help determine which of these versions is more accurate. The police have been criticised for failing to maintain order and for their slowness in transporting Kashyap to a hospital.
“After Sulabh Srivastava in June, this is the second time this year that an Indian journalist’s body has been found covered in injuries against a backdrop of very disturbing behaviour by the authorities,” RSF spokesperson Pauline Adès-Mével said. “We call for a thorough investigation, that must be carried out in a completely independent manner in order to determine the exact causes of Raman Kashyap’s death and to punish those responsible.”
After the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri district, which left a total of nine people dead, the Internet was disconnected in the district for three days. It was finally restored on 5 October.
Kashyap is the third Indian journalist to be killed in connection with their work in the past four months. The first was Sulabh Srivastava, who was found dead in June at roadside in Pratapgarh district, which is also in Uttar Pradesh. The second was Chenna Kesavulu, who was stabbed to death in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh in August by a policeman after exposing his corrupt activities.
India is ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index.