Reporter almost killed in knife attack in northeastern India

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the authorities in the state of Tripura, in northeastern India, to ensure that an almost fatal knife attack on an investigative reporter does not go unpunished and that the reporter is protected.

Suman Debnath, 30, a journalist with various local media outlets who is known for his bold investigative reporting, was nearly killed when he went to a meeting at a petroleum depot in Dharmanagar, a town in the north of the state, late at night on 18 June.

He went there to meet with two men involved in the regular theft of oil from the depot to discuss about the thefts and the trafficking in stolen oil.

But the meeting turned out to be a trap because one of the two men attacked him with a knife and tried to kill him by cutting his throat. Debnath’s cries alerted neighbours, who intervened and saved his life. After Debnath had been rushed to hospital, doctors said his life was no longer in danger.

The police arrested one of the two men, but the main suspect got away.

“We firmly condemn this murder attempt,” RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk said. “We call on the local authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and to take all necessary measures to ensure that this journalist is protected and is able to continue his investigative reporting without putting his life in danger.”

Two journalists were murdered in the space of two months in Tripura in late 2017. One, Shantanu Bhowmick, was beaten and stabbed to death. The other, Sudip Datta Bhaumik, was gunned down.

Four journalists have been killed in India since the start of 2018. The latest victim, the well-known Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhariwas shot dead last week.

India is ranked 138th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index, two places lower than last year.

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Updated on 23.08.2019