The Editors Guild of India has demanded that the Madhya Pradesh government institute a high-level probe into Saturday's murder of senior freelance journalist Chandrika Rai and his entire family in order to “unravel the conspiracy behind the murder.”

In a letter to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the guild said it was suspected that the multiple murders were a bid to silence Mr. Rai, who had recently written a series of hard-hitting articles against illegal coal mining activity in the region and the alleged involvement of a local political leader.

“We owe it to the memory of this courageous journalist to ensure that the guilty are arrested speedily,” said the letter. “The State government must demonstrate its sincerity by working tirelessly to unravel the conspiracy behind the murder.”

Mr. Rai, who regularly contributed to Hindi daily Navbharat and English daily The Hitavada, was killed at his home in Umaria district along with his wife Durga and his teenage children Jalaj and Nisha.

The South Asia Media Commission also issued a statement condemning the murders and the nexus between mafia, politicians and bureaucrats that endangers journalists in many parts of the country.

“The only fault of Mr. Rai was that he exposed the illegal activities of the coal mining mafia in the State…He thus paid a very heavy price for discharging his professional duties,” said SAMC's India Chapter president K.K. Katyal.

Despite investigations and assurances by State and Central governments regarding protection for journalists, they continue to be targeted “by all types of shady elements, at times, with the knowledge, if not support of powerful politicians,” said Mr. Katyal's statement.

He urged the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, in collaboration with the Home Ministry, to evolve effective and credible measures to protect vulnerable journalists.