Lucknow: Yet another journalist was killed in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday morning, the second-such incident over the past month. Vikram Joshi, a Ghaziabad-based journalist, was shot at by miscreants in front of his two daughters near his residence on June 20. He succumbed to his injuries in a hospital on Wednesday morning.
The doctor who was monitoring his case said that Joshi had received fatal head wounds. The brutal attack on Joshi was captured by CCTV cameras.
The attack came four days after Joshi, who works with a local daily, lodged a complaint at the local Vijay Nagar police station against some people for harassing his niece, on July 16.
“A few men were harassing his niece a few days ago and my brother had opposed it and also filed a police complaint. A case was also registered following which he was shot at by those miscreants,” Joshi’s brother Aniket Joshi reportedly said.
In the CCTV footage, Joshi is seen riding a two-wheeler, and is accompanied by his daughters. He is stopped and assaulted by a group of men who begin beating him up. One of the men fires a gun at Joshi and he falls to the ground. The assailants then flee. Joshi’s daughters rush towards him and cry for help.
According to reports, nine people have been arrested in connection with the case so far, the police said on Tuesday.
“We received information at around 10:45 p.m. that a Pratap Vihar-based journalist, Vikram, has been shot at. Senior officers rushed to the spot and the victim was admitted to hospital. Within a few hours, five persons were taken into custody; in the afternoon, four more were arrested. The main accused, Ravi, also a resident of Pratap Vihar, confessed to us that he orchestrated the attack and carried it out with his accomplices,” said senior superintendent of police (SSP) Ghaziabad, Kalanidhi Naithani, told media persons.
The FIR was registered under Indian Penal Code Sections 307 (attempted murder), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (act done by several people with a common intention) on a complaint by Joshi's brother Aniket Joshi, said Naithani.
The FIR named three suspects – Chhotu, Akash Bihari and Ravi, and some unidentified people. Mohit, Dalveer, Abhishek, Shakir and Yogendra have been arrested in connection with the case, while search operations are underway to nab more suspects, he added.
Joshi’s brother has alleged that the police did not investigate the initial complaint that his brother Vikram had filed, and that it only inquired about the whereabouts of the accused, but did not find them, The Indian Express reported. The deceased’s family has alleged that Joshi’s death was a result of police incompetence.
The police has admitted that it was found wanting in its response to Joshi’s complaint. “We are very strict when it comes to crimes against women. The family approached them with a case of molestation. The accused had also filed a counter FIR, alleging they were assaulted by Vikram’s relatives. But the policeman should have acted swiftly since it was a crime against a woman,” said Rakesh Mishra, circle officer (City 1st), Ghaziabad.
Joshi’s murder is the latest in the increased targeting of journalists in Uttar Pradesh, with instances of harassment, intimidation and murders of journalists in recent years. Suman Gupta, a veteran journalist based in Lucknow and former member of the Press Council of India, said: "There is no unity among journalists. Earlier, when a journalist was harassed or killed, the incident assumed national headlines and journalists’ unions used to hit the road for justice. But these days, you will hardly find anyone raising their voice against the muzzling of voices of journalists. The BJP-led government is not serious about investigating crimes against journalists,” she said, adding that it was a shame that Joshi was killed for raising his voice for a woman.
She further said that a group of journalists had decided to organise a protest on Wednesday against his killing, but pressure from the district administration resulted in its cancellation. "How would the government take crimes against journalists seriously when they are not united themselves?" she asked.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi called Uttar Pradesh’s governance 'goonda raj' (rule by hooligans), soon after Joshi succumbed to the bullet injury.
"Ghaziabad falls in the NCR region. Going by the state of law and order here, one can get a fair idea of the situation in the UP. A journalist was shot at because he complained to the police against the molestation of his niece. How will the common man feel safe in such a jungle raj," she said in a tweet in Hindi.
The incident occurred one month after another journalist, Shubham Mani Tripathi, was killed by unidentified persons in broad daylight while he was on his way home with his friend on a motorcycle, about 20 kms from Kanpur. NewsClick had reported that the young journalist was killed in for exposing the sand mafia and land grabbing.