No Country for Journos: Scribes Who Were Murdered for Their Work

Here’s a list of four journalists who were killed in India.

4 min read
Journalists Narendra Dabholkar, Rajdeo Ranjan, and Jagendra Singh were killed for doing their job.

Senior journalist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead by unidentified assailants outside her house in Bengaluru on 5 September. Lankesh, the editor of Kannada-weekly Lankesh Patrike, was known to be a vocal critic of right-wing parties in Karnataka.

According to the International Federation of Journalists, 93 journalists have been victims of targeted killings in the year 2016. With five journalists being killed in India last year, the country ranks eighth in the list of highest number of media professionals killed.

Global advocacy group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) termed India as “Asia’s deadliest country for media personnel.” The report said that India was ahead of both Pakistan and Afghanistan in this regard.

Journalists daring to cover organised crime and its links with politicians have been exposed to a surge in violence, especially violence of criminal origin, since the start of 2015.
RSF report

From investigating scams, to exposing criminal links of politicians, to simply having an alternate point of view, journalists are being targeted in the country.

Here's a list of four such journalists who were killed in India:

Rajdeo Ranjan

Journalist Rajdeo Ranjan. 
Journalist Rajdeo Ranjan. 
(Screengrab: YouTube)
  • Murdered: 13 May 2016
  • Beats Covered: Corruption, politics, crime
  • How was he murdered: Unknown men shot him dead in close range near his office
  • Place: Siwan, Bihar

Rajdeo Ranjan was working as the bureau chief of Hindi daily Hindustan from Bihar's Siwan. Ranjan extensively reported on former RJD MP Mohammad Shahabuddin.

He reported on the intelligence information gathered by the CBI on 23 persons “identified to be eliminated” by Shahbuddin. The news report featured Ranjan’s own name as being one of Shahbuddin’s targets.

Just one month before his murder, he reported about Shahbuddin meeting and sharing a meal with the then RJD Minister Abdul Ghafoor.

The CBI court, after a year of investigation, named Shahbuddin as an accused in the murder.


Narendra Dabholkar

No Country for Journos: Scribes Who Were Murdered for Their Work
(Photo: Twitter)
  • Murdered: 20 August 2013
  • Beats Covered: Culture, politics
  • How he was murdered: Two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle shot him dead while he was on his morning walk
  • Place: Pune, Maharashtra

As the editor of Marathi weekly Sadhana, Narendra Dabolkar promoted scientific though of caste, politics, and religion.

Dabolkar was a staunch supporter of banning fraudulent superstitious practices. A few days ahead of his murder, the Maharashtra state government introduced the controversial Anti-Superstition Bill.

In December 2015, the CBI told the Bombay High Court that it had identified names of two suspects; however, it will be kept confidential. Hardline Hindu group Sanatan Sanstha was interrogated by the CBI in relation to Dabolkar’s murder in 2016.

Jagendra Singh

No Country for Journos: Scribes Who Were Murdered for Their Work
(Photo Courtesy: Youth Connect)
  • Murdered: 8 June 2015
  • Beats Covered: Politics
  • How he was murdered: Jagendra Singh was doused in petrol and set on fire
  • Place: Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh

Freelance journalist Jagendra Singh, minutes before succumbing to death, recorded a statement where he accused politician Ram Murti Verma of "unleashing terror" on him and his family for investigative reports and critical comments against Verma.

Verma was a Minister in the then ruling Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh. Singh reportedly exposed the land mafia deals of Verma, and also alleged that he gang raped a local woman.

Just one day before his murder, he questioned the land holdings of Verma.


Umesh Rajput

  • Murdered: 23 January 2011
  • Beats Covered: Corruption, human rights
  • How was he murdered: Two masked gunmen on a motorcycle shot him dead
  • Place: Raipur district, Chhattisgarh

Days before his murder, Umesh Rajput was threatened with a note saying, “If you don't stop publishing news, you will die.”

The muder note, however, was found by the police after his death. The journalist extensively covered corruption and exploitation against tribal communities in Chhattisgarh.

He was allegedly killed by a “powerful lobby of health professionals who were angered by the slain reporter's newspaper articles criticising the district's health infrastructure,” reported The Hindu.

The family claimed that the police resisted efforts to investigate the murder, two years after his death.

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