An award-winning journalist who edits the Shillong Times, the region’s main English-language newspaper, Patricia Mukhim was working at home yesterday evening when two unidentified men on a motorcycle threw a kerosene bomb at her bedroom, starting a fire that was quickly put out without causing any injuries.
Mukhim said she thought the attack was a reprisal for articles critical of “some organisations” and the government. In an editorial published on 13 April, she criticized the Meghalaya state government for allowing excessive limestone quarrying and for planning to lift a ban on coal mining.
“The attack against Patricia Mukhim is both unacceptable and very worrying, given that all the latest journalists to be murdered in India were previously the targets of violent threats and that a climate of hostility towards critical media is being deliberately fostered,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “We urge the local authorities to investigate this incident thoroughly and to take all necessary measures to protect Mukhim.”
The attack recalls the murder of Gauri Lankesh, a well-known newspaper editor who was gunned down by men on a motorcycle outside her home in the southern city of Bangalore in September.
Journalists are often the victims of threats, physical violence and murder in northeastern India. Two journalists, Sudip Datta Bhaumik and Shantanu Bhowmick, were killed within a few weeks of each other in the northeastern state of Tripura in 2017. The police have not arrested those responsible and their investigations seem to have ground to a halt.
India is ranked 136th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.