Reporters Without Borders is very saddened by the murder of Sai Reddy, a respected newspaper journalist who was beaten and stabbed to death by suspected Maoist rebels in Basaguda, in the troubled Bastar region of the east-central state of Chhattisgarh, on 6 December.
“We firmly condemn Reddy’s murder and offer our sincere condolences to his family and colleagues,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The current level of violence against media personnel in India is unacceptable. The police must shed light on this shocking crime and find out if the motive was linked to Reddy’s work as a journalist.
“Reddy’s death is emblematic of the difficulties journalists face in the Bastar region, where they are threatened both the authorities and the Maoists. Many journalists have had to flee the region for safety reasons. Those who cover developments in Bastar and do investigative reporting must not become the victims of this conflict.”
A group of suspected Maoists armed with knives attacked Reddy at a market near his home, leaving him in a pool of blood when they fled. He died while being taken to hospital
Aged around 50 and employed by the daily Deshbandhu, Reddy had been targeted in the past by both the authorities and the Maoists in connection with his investigative reporting of the Naxalite (Maoist) insurrection.
He was given a prison term in 2008 for his supposed links with the Maoists, while the Maoists, accusing him of links with the security forces, set fire to his home and threatened to kill him, forcing him to leave Chhattisgarh. He was only allowed to return after apologising to the Maoists.
Reddy’s refusal to take part in an anti-Naxalite movement from 2005 to 2008 led to his being branded as a Maoist sympathiser. Like many other journalists in the region, he did not make his living solely from journalism and supplemented his income by selling cereals.
Ranked 140th out of 170 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, India is currently experiencing an unprecedented wave of violence against media personnel. At least eight journalists have been killed this year, a level of violence previously seen only in 1997, when seven were killed.