New Delhi: Unidentified assailants hacked to death a local reporter of Telugu daily Andhra Jyothy in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh on Monday. K. Satyanarayana died on the spot while the assailants fled after committing the crime in S Annavaram village in Tuni mandal, police said.
According to The News Minute, the incident occurred around 7 pm on Monday, when two assailants attacked the journalist with a heavy weapon and fled. East Godavari SP Adnan Nayeem Asmi said, “The investigation is ongoing, based on statements of family members. Apart from that, we are also looking at it from other angles.”
The journalist’s family claims that the murder was a revenge killing, while other reports said that the murder may have been the culmination of a personal rivalry. Reports also said that Satyanarayana had filed a complaint in the past, saying there was a threat to his life. He was apparently attacked previously also.
Andhra Pradesh director general of police Gautam Sawang directed SP Asmi to personally visit the scene of offence and unearth the facts. The DGP instructed the SP to bring the culprits to book immediately, the release added.
The government and political parties also condemned the attack. Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu pointed out that this was the fourth attack on a journalist in the state in the past few months. He accused the YSR Congress party of stifling critical voices and said attacks on media freedom are antithetical to the functioning of a democracy.
On August 11, Dolendra Prasad, the editor of Zameen Rythu, a popular weekly Telugu magazine in Nellore was attacked by YSR Congress party MLA Kotamreddy Sridhar Reddy. Prasad told the media that the MLA and some of his supporters barged into his house, and abused him and later assaulted him over the publication of a report that was critical of him. Police filed a case against the MLA a day later.
On September 23, journalist Nagarjuna Reddy was attacked with knives and sticks in Ongole district of Andhra Pradesh by unidentified assailants. He was in a critical condition and was admitted to a hospital in Chirala. Reddy works for Telugu daily Neti Surya.
According to The News Minute, Nagarjuna Reddy had been attacked before by the kin of MLA Amanchi Krishna Mohan in 2017. Reports say the assailants may be connected to Krishna Mohan, who shifted loyalties from the Telugu Desam Party to the YSR Congress Party. He lost the 2019 state assembly elections.
Nagarjuna Reddy had earlier this year complained to the police seeking protection because he was facing death threats from the former MLA.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released a statement condemning police action to protect Nagarjuna Reddy.
“Nagarjuna Reddy embodies a courageous and determined journalism that does not hesitate to investigate the private interests of certain persons when they conflict with the public interest,” the statement said.
“The repeated extremely violent attacks, like the one he has just sustained, are therefore all the more shocking. In view of the widespread corruption prevailing within the local elites, we urge Andhra Pradesh chief minister Jaganmohan Reddy to order an independent enquiry that identifies the real instigators of these attacks and brings them to justice,” RSF said.
The statement also suggested that the attack could have been motivated by Reddy’s articles in which he wrote about Amanchi Krishna Mohan’s alleged links with the Chirala sand mafia.
India ranked 140th out of 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index 2019, slipping two spots. The international NGO said violence against journalists “is one of the most striking characteristics of the current state of press freedom in India”, noting that at least six Indian journalists were killed in connection with their work in 2018.
“These murders highlighted the many dangers Indian journalists face, especially those working for non-English-language media outlets in rural areas,” the index says.