Opinion » Readers' Editor

Updated: March 26, 2012 00:05 IST

Why no CBI probe into murder of family in Madhya Pradesh?

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S. Viswanathan
The Hindu
S. Viswanathan

The last column (“Killing of scribes: justice delayed or denied,” March 12, 2012) led to a large number of readers expressing indignation at the mafia-style murders of a journalist and his family and the lack of response from the State government. From one reader, my office received five letters in five days; each one sought only one thing — quick initiatives to bring to justice the killers of the investigative journalist Chandrika Rai and his wife and two teenaged children. Readers did not mince words while condemning the murders in Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh on February 18. Rai, a freelance journalist, had exposed, through his incisive writing in a couple of newspapers, the illicit mining of coal in the central Indian State.

Some readers offered practical solutions to the various problems journalists, especially investigative reporters, confront frequently, while others raised pointed questions that demand honest answers. One reader asked why the police ignored the first mention in the media of the recent activities of the coal mining mafia. Another asked why the media showed no interest in proceeding with the investigation and following up after a stage.

The relevance of such questions becomes apparent when we consider that on March 8, about three weeks after the killing of Chandrika Rai and his family members, Narendra Kumar, a 30-year-old official of the Indian Police Service (IPS), was mowed down by a tractor-trolley engaged in illicit mining in Morena district. The grisly incident only brought out the brazenness of the mining mafia fed by money and muscle power.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan decided to bring in the Central Bureau of Investigation to investigate the killing of the IPS officer. A CBI investigation into the other case is still possible if the Union of Madhya Pradesh Journalists presses its demand with greater force. In a similar situation in Chhattisgarh, Sushil Pathak, a reporter with Dainik Bhaskar, was shot dead when he was returning home after the night shift in December last year. Chief Minister Raman Singh handed over the case to the CBI after continuous protests by journalists' organisations.

As for the question why the media tend to lose interest on an issue soon, a study by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), New York has shown that unpunished violence against journalists often led to self-censorship. Such a situation generally compels people to avoid sensitive issues.

Significantly, international organisations such as UNESCO and the International Press Institute are increasingly concerned with ways and means to ensure safety for journalists working in situations where threats to life and limb abound. In fact, UNESCO and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) have provided training in conflict and human rights to 80 journalists in 2011.

Bringing the guilty to justice

Prem Mahendran in his online response to my column said that weeks after the brutal murder of Chandrika Rai, no major reports on the progress of the police investigation had been published by the media. There ought to be constant police alerts, he suggested. He wondered why an independent inquiry could not be agreed to.

J.P. Reddy of Nalgonda said in his e-mail that it was a tragedy that the mafia was killing several journalists. He opined that without the active support of politicians no mafia could survive. In view of this, journalists who track the criminal activities of the mafia gangs must change their strategy and make investigative journalism teamwork. His suggestions include life insurance cover of up to Rs.10 lakh for all journalists and an arrangement whereby the police would be kept informed about their professional visits.

Ajeet Tiwary e-mailed: “It [our concern for journalists] is not only about beating and denigrating media. Efforts are on to curb the voice that speaks for those who are marginalised. Should we beat them all in streets without hearing them in the court? Those [who are] guilty must be brought to the court and punished.”

Ramakrishna Ogirala reminded journalists of their key role in protecting democracy. He recalled the brutal attacks on media persons by a section of advocates in Bangalore, besides the killings soon after of Chandrika Rai and his family and the young police officer by the mining mafia in Madhya Pradesh. Noting that political leaders seldom keep their promises, he demanded that the government should act speedily to bring the culprits to justice.

Why didn't media follow up on the investigation. It has happened in so
many cases, sometimes crimes are committed by people who who are least
suspected. Like in this murder case, the driver of the reporter was
involved and we were all pointing in the direction of coal mafia.

from:  Ashwin Dandekar
Posted on: Jun 2, 2012 at 23:46 IST

Your paper has done good job by taking up this issue. All crimes against journalist should be vigoriously investigated by the Government. Unfortunately, politicians are hand-in-glove with mafias and such crime goes unpunished.

from:  Neelesh
Posted on: Mar 30, 2012 at 17:15 IST

These goons should be caught and hanged period. Journalists who are in danger should be careful and send their family to some other place for their safety and should get a gun license and not be afraid to use it when required. If they can atleast take a couple of goons with them these incidents will reduce. MP has gone to the dogs under BJP rule.

from:  lalu.alex
Posted on: Mar 30, 2012 at 10:59 IST

In my opinion it is not advisable for journalists to keep police informed about their professional approach & visits. This poses more riskier to journalists & disrupts their operations. Government will not do much to protect journalists since there might be few involved in the mafia. It is up to people to show how tables can be turned around against Governments for justice. Just by doing strikes will not help. General public need to work together as a team & unearth the truth hidden behind sealed walls. India needs reforming steps to face justice as a country & not as individuals.

from:  Charitha
Posted on: Mar 29, 2012 at 16:06 IST

It's heartening to see The Hindu try to bring focus on cases like this which are being suppressed elsewhere. I second the suggestion from another reader to have a small section of the paper to keep updating on these cases so they are not out of sight and out of mind.

from:  K. Venkateswaran
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 23:11 IST

talk about a free country, there are goons selling cheap coal and ore to china and killing whistle blowers (and now murdering their families also), this is sad for our country! these goons should be caught and tried for treason and not corruption!

from:  Rohit
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 12:17 IST

The killers of Jessica Lall, Priyadarshini Matoo, Nitish Katara and Shivani Bhatnagar are behind the bars for life term was because of Media activism. When Arnab Goswami was asked by Srivatsa Krishna, IAS, on times now in a debate following the killing of Young IPS Officer, Narendra Kumar, shri Gosawami, to the query by Srivatsa, promised him that Times now would follow the case till it reaches the people behind the gruesome murder. Three weeks passed and nothing has been heard after the CBI took over the investigation. The Media should keep up the momentum in the case cited by the author or else the mafia under the blessings of their political mentors would conquer the country's resources.

from:  P.S.Srinivas
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 12:14 IST

People are well aware of CBI (how it functions). If the Government of India thinks that the common man is unaware of the functioning of Central Bureau of Investigation then they are mistaken. Politicians never feel the responsibility and even they should not be reminded of their primary duty of addresing grievances of the public by media. They feel they are above all. One thing every politicianand all anti-social elements should bear it in mind that PEOPLE are ultimate bosses and rulers of the society. Let us hope that the Government will react sharply on the public issues immediately.

from:  Ramakrishna Ogirala
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 11:26 IST

It is time we organise ourselves to educate people / citizens of ills of corrpution. It has to be a non-political party and without a charming leader (like anna - we do not need idol worship). There is no use blaming Govt or anyone. We have to blame ourselves as we have brought this situation on ourselves. Thief is correct in robbing us if we have not locked our doors properly.

from:  Ram
Posted on: Mar 27, 2012 at 10:30 IST

By taking this matter The Hindu is trying to show that we people including media are focusing only to that part where everybody is safe. We are taking any matter seriously because till today nothing has happened to us but who knows may be one time this will happen with us or with one of our family members on that day we will helpless same like today what the victim family is facing. So its our responsibility to bring justice without help of any external agency because we people are power not those who are sitting in offices, bureaucrats

from:  Pramod Kumar
Posted on: Mar 27, 2012 at 07:33 IST

Instead of repeated telecasts on the children of Indian couples in Norway which is of no
interest to the general public,the TV channels and National Newspapers should focus on the investigative journalism on the courageous individuals who are fighting against the scourge of corruption like Coal Mafia etc. viz.the journalist Chandrika Rai,brave police officer Narendra Kumar and RTI activists who are exposing corruption in high places with
missionary zeal.Common man is fed up with corruption everywhere and would like the press and electronic media to play a major role in building up a strong public opinion against corruption which should pave way for a responsiblebetter political and bureaucratic systems in the country.

from:  M.Venkat Reddy
Posted on: Mar 27, 2012 at 00:22 IST

We appriciate The Hindu for its active journalism on many un-noticed issues. The Hindu has set an example for other news papers. I request The Hindu to allocate seperate half page in its news paper and give us the updates on these cases.. So that readers are aware of it..

from:  Nellai Balaji
Posted on: Mar 26, 2012 at 18:46 IST

Thank you to the hindu for following-up on this case.It is very important for the public to be made aware about this case. Also, how deep the power of illegal activity in this country flourishes so right decisions are made when voting people to power.The brutal murder of the family is very disturbing and shocking news and it is having more effect to it when we see the Government and the police are playing games with people's life with corruption and mafia friendship.

from:  Rajesh
Posted on: Mar 26, 2012 at 05:30 IST
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