Chenna Kesavulu, a reporter for local TV channel EV5 in Nandyal, a city in Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool district, was rushed to a hospital with multiple stab wounds in the back on the evening of 8 August but was pronounced dead on arrival.
Earlier that evening, Kesavulu had gone to meet with newly suspended police constable Venkata Subbaiah and his brother Nani at Subbaiah’s suggestion. But, instead of having a meeting, Kesavulu was attacked by Subbaiah, who stabbed him repeatedly with a screwdriver, especially in the back.
Just under a month ago, Kesavulu posted a series of reports on his YouTube channel exposing the links between Subbaiah and criminal groups that traffic in gutka chewing tobacco and run a form of illegal gambling known as matka. Subbaiah was suspended two weeks ago as a result of Kesavulu’s revelations.
Brutal and premeditated
Kurnool district police superintendent Sudheer Kumar Reddy confirmed to RSF that Subbaiah and his brother have been arrested under section of 302 of India’s penal code for Kesavulu’s murder and that the police are working on the assumption that the motive was revenge for the journalist’s reporting.
“Chenna Kesavulu’s murder is doubly shocking, both for its brutality and premeditation,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “We therefore hail the investigation’s swift progress and the arrest of the two suspects, who must be brought to trial as quickly as possible. Impunity for crimes of violence against journalists in India must end.”
Less than two months ago, RSF called for an independent investigation into the death of Sulabh Srivastava, a journalist who was found dead in ambiguous circumstances in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on 13 June. The previous day, he had notified the police that he had received death threats after writing a story about local alcohol bootleggers. According to RSF’s sources, the investigation into his death has stalled.
India is ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.