Indian journalist slain, second in 2 weeks

Indian journalists at a road blockade, set up over the killing of fellow reporter Shantanu Bhowmick on Wednesday, in front of the Chief Minister's residence in Agartala, the capital of the north-eastern state of Tripura.
Indian journalists at a road blockade, set up over the killing of fellow reporter Shantanu Bhowmick on Wednesday, in front of the Chief Minister's residence in Agartala, the capital of the north-eastern state of Tripura.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Reporter covering political unrest beaten to death in clashes in troubled north-east region

NEW DELHI • A reporter covering political unrest in India's north-east was beaten to death during violent clashes, officials said yesterday, two weeks after the high-profile murder of another prominent journalist.

Mr Shantanu Bhowmick was set upon with sticks as he reported on violence on Wednesday between warring political factions and police outside Agartala, the capital of remote Tripura state.

State police superintendent Abhijit Saptarshi said more than a dozen officers were also injured in the fracas and tensions remained high in the troubled region.

"We later found the journalist's body at the site of the clashes," the superintendent said.

No arrests have yet been made in connection with the reporter's death, but four people were detained on separate charges related to the political violence, Mr Saptarshi added.

Mr Bhowmick's death brings the number of reporters killed in India since the early 1990s to 29, according to figures from the Committee to Protect Journalists. It comes just a fortnight after the murder of Ms Gauri Lankesh, a newspaper editor and outspoken critic of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, whose death sparked an outpouring of anger.

The 55-year-old was shot dead by three unknown gunmen as she entered her home in the southern city of Bangalore in Karnataka state on Sept 5. No one has yet been identified or arrested in connection with the killing.

In 2015, India was ranked the deadliest country in Asia for journalists by Reporters Without Borders - although most deaths occur in remote rural areas away from the major urban centres.

And in April, the press freedom group ranked the country 136th of 180 countries in its world press freedom ratings, blaming "Hindu nationalists trying to purge all manifestations of 'anti-national' thought from the national debate".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2017, with the headline 'Indian journalist slain, second in 2 weeks'. Print Edition | Subscribe