Navin Nischal, a reporter for the Hindi-language daily Dainik Bhaskar, and Vijay Singh, a colleague, were on a motorcycle when they were rammed from behind by a SUV driven by Mohammad Harsu, a former “mukhiya” (village chief), who was accompanied by his son.
Nischal and Singh died on the spot. Their families said there was no doubt they were killed deliberately.
According to the police, various sources reported that Nischal and Harsu had an argument earlier in the day about Nischal’s reporting for Dainik Bhaskar. Harsu had already threatened Nischal and other local journalists. Harsu fled the scene of the crime but police arrested him the next day.
“We welcome the arrest of the perpetrator of this shocking double murder but we urge the authorities to identify all those responsible and not let it go unpunished,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.
“The endemic violence affecting reporters in India has reached unparalleled levels in the past four years and the impunity so often enjoyed by those responsible sustains an unbearable security environment for journalism. Concrete measures must be taken at the federal level to protect journalists.”
At least three journalists were killed in connection with their work in India in the latter part of 2017, including Gauri Lankesh, a newspaper editor gunned down outside her home in the southern city of Bangalore in September. Although a suspect has been arrested for the deaths of Nischal and Singh, their double murder has again highlighted the dangers for journalists in India.
Less than 24 hours after Nischal and Singh were killed, another journalist, Sandeep Sharma, was deliberately mown down by a dumper truck in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. He had been investigating illegal sand mining for a national TV channel.
India is ranked 136th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.