Mumbai : The Mumbai Press Club expresses its shock over the killing of Madhya Pradesh-based journalist Sandeep Kothari, who has been burnt to death for exposing the sand mafia.
Kothari, 40, hailed from Balaghat district and was writing for several Jabalpur-based newspapers as a tehsil correspondent. He was a good journalist and had been relentlessly exposing criminals and the sand mafia in particular.
The burnt body of Sandeep Kothari, who was abducted from Katangi tehsil in Balaghat district two days back, was found lying near railway tracks at Sindi town in Wardha district of Vidarbha region.
We request the governments of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra to order a joint police investigation into this sordid killing of a member of the Fourth Estate. The Club also demands that the Maharashtra government, in whose jurisdiction the body was found, ensure that the culprits are subject to the maximum punishment – be it the foot-soldiers or the masterminds.
Kothari was abducted on June 19 night when he was headed towards Umri village with his friend on his bike.His bike was hit by a four-wheeler and its occupants bundled him inside the vehicle and fled before beating up Kothari’s friend Rahandle who was riding pillion. His body was also found on June 21. The family of Kothari is an a state of shock.
This incident of setting afire of a journalist comes in the wake of freelance journalist Jagendra Singh by members of the UP police, who acted at the behest of Uttar Pradesh’s minister for backward Classes Welfare, Ram Murti Verma. Jagendra Singh was mercilessly set afire after kerosene was poured on him by the goons, and he died a horrific death on 8 June.The attack on the journalist on 1 June in Shahjahanpur was organized by the minister after Jagendra Singh exposed Ram Murti Verma in a series of Facebook posts accusing him of involvement in illegal mining activities and land grabbing.
These two back-to-back incidents has come as a shock to the journalist fraternity in India. At the time of crisis, we stand behind both the families and condemn the killing in strongest possible words and urge for speedy investigation and trial.
It is to be mentioned here that these two incidents must not be treated separately – and by and large there has been a trend on increasing number of attacks on journalists in cities as well as rural areas. The reasons may be varied. Even we can cite the recent incident of Mumbai photojournalist Amey Kharade being manhandled by policemen.
The Mumbai Press Club over the last several years – particularly since the killing of journalist J Dey – have been demanding that incident of attacks on journalists must be made non-bailable and congnizable.