New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India (EGI) on Monday accused the Uttar Pradesh police of passing off the death of a TV journalist as being caused by an accident, claiming they did not pay any heed even though he had informed them about the danger to his life.
In a statement, the guild said it is shocked by “the cavalier manner” in which the Uttar Pradesh police is treating the “mysterious death” of Sulabh Srivastava in Pratapgarh.
According to the police, Srivastava died on Sunday after his motorcycle rammed into a pole in Pratapgarh. He was returning from Ashrahi village under the Lalganj police station area when the incident took place.
The journalist had recently run a story about the liquor mafia.
The guild said Srivastava, who was threatened by the liquor mafia for exposing their wrongdoings, had recently written a letter to the police expressing grave apprehensions for his life.
The journalist believed that some people were following him, it said, adding the authorities paid no heed to his fears.
Srivastava died a couple of days after writing the letter to the police, it said.
“The police is passing off his death as being caused by an accident, claiming that his bike rammed into a handpump,” the guild charged.
The EGI said the journalist’s death comes at a time when media is facing “increasing pressures from the central and the state governments who insist that they follow the official narrative regarding the administration’s handling of the pandemic”.
What is further worrying is that the police and the local authorities “liberally and unjustifiably” use laws such as sedition and the UAPA to file charges and arrest journalists, the editors’ body charged.
“This is against the spirit of the judgement given by the Supreme Court in Kedar Nath Singh case and reiterated in the recent sedition case against Vinod Dua,” the EGI said.
It alleged that journalists and cartoonists critical of the government are also being targeted on social media as pressures are being mounted by the government on these platforms to remove such critical journalists on the specious ground that they are violating the law of the land.
“All of this is contrary to the commitments that Prime Minister Narendra Modi made at the G-7 summit to democracy, openness and against authoritarianism,” the EGI said.