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TV Journalist Shot Twice in UP’s Jaunpur District

Journalist Devendra Khare alleged that BJP district president Pushpraj Singh’s brother Rituraj was pressuring him not report an attack involving him and his father.

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Lucknow: A journalist employed with a TV channel was shot at by two unidentified bike-borne gunmen in Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh on Sunday.

Devendra Khare and his friends were sitting at his office in Chandpur Balu Mandi, under the Line Bazar Police Station, when the two masked gunmen arrived and fired at him twice. The bullets hit his stomach and right hand.

The attackers fled after locals pelted stones at them. Khare informed his colleagues and the police, who rushed to the spot. Subsequently, Khare was admitted to the district hospital.

A case under Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code has been lodged against one Rituraj Singh, alias Chotu, brother of BJP district president Pushpraj Singh, and two others at the Line Bazar police station.

According to Jaunpur SP Ajay Pal Sharma, Khare “sustained bullet wounds on his right palm and stomach”. “He is out of danger. Many teams have been deployed to catch the culprits. They will be in custody soon,” he told Newsclick.

In his FIR, Khare alleged that Rituraj was allegedly pressuring him against reporting a recent attack on Akhil Bhartiya Brahman Mahasabha national president Rajendra Tripathi and his family.

When asked about Khare’s allegation of the involvement of a BJP leader’s brother’s involvement, Sharma said, “It is merely an allegation. The investigating teams are probing multiple angles in the case, including the allegation. We cannot take action until we collect all the evidence against the accused. We will not let the accused go unpunished.”

Khare told Newsclick that Tripathi and his family were returning from Mirzapur’s Vindhyavasini Devi Temple to Gorakhpur 10 days ago.

On his way, Tripathi was attacked by Rituraj’s father Diwakar Singh, who smashed the bonnet of his car and took away its keys,” Khare alleged.

Later, Diwakar called Rituraj, who reached there with a few gunners. The father-son duo allegedly misbehaved with Tripathi and his family, including the female members. I reported the incident to my news channel and that was my crime,” Khare said alleging that the “whole Singh family has a criminal background”.

Khare added that when a case was “not registered against Diwakar, Rituraj and the other accused even after a week of the incident, Tripathi approached deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Brajesh Pathak”.

Nine days after the incident, an FIR was registered against them after Pathak took cognisance of the matter. I reported the development as it was due to impact of my story. I had no idea that I would also become their target,” Khare, who has been reporting for the last 25 years, said.

The accused allegedly pressured the journalist to delete the earlier report and not to report further. “I did not give in though I apprehended an attack. But I had never anticipated that they would barge into my office and try to kill me. Had I not jumped the adjacent boundary, I would have been killed that day. They shot me at my chest but my mobile phone saved me,” Khare alleged.

When asked about how safe is to report in Jaunpur, he said, “Reporting in a small town is very risky but still we have been doing it. Threatening a journalist for reporting was common but trying to kill a reporter is a new trend these days. There is no safety for a journalist."

Journalists in the state had been attacked for exposing illegal sand mining and exposing irregularities in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

A young journalist named Shubham Mani Tripathi was shot dead by unidentified persons in Unnao district in 2020 while returning home with his friend on a motorcycle for exposing an influential local leader’s involvement in land grabbing.

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