A journalist in Uttar Pradesh’s Pratapgarh district, who had written to police fearing threat to his life from the ‘liquor mafia’, died in an alleged road accident a day later on June 13 night, police said.
Shulabh Srivastava, 42, worked as the district correspondent of news channel ABP News.
While stating that prima facie he died in a road accident, the police noted they were probing all other angles.
A murder case was lodged against unknown persons on a complaint of his wife. She suspects he was killed by the liquor mafia and the suspects tried to project it like an accident.
On June 13 night, around 10-11 p.m., Srivastava was returning to Pratapgarh from Lalganj after a news coverage when he was found injured near a brick kiln at the Katra crossing after falling from his motorcycle, said Addl SP (East) Surendra P. Dwivedi. Labourers working at the kiln picked him and took him to the sides. He was taken to a hospital but was declared brought dead. Prima facie, it was found that he was travelling alone and the death happened after he collided with a pole and tubewell on the side of the road. The police, however, were “probing all other angles deeply.”
Application to ADG
In an application submitted to ADG Prayagraj Prem Prakash, through WhatsApp, Mr. Srivastava on June 12 expressed threat to his life by the “liquor mafia” who, he said, were unhappy with his coverage of recent unearthing of illegal factories and police raids of these sites in the district. He sought security and a probe into his matter.
“Last two days, whenever I went out of my house for some work, I felt I was being followed. Based on sources and public discussion, I feel that some liquor mafia who are unhappy over my news, can cause harm to me and my family,” he wrote.
Mr. Prem Prakash said he had received the application on WhatsApp from the scribe on Sunday following which the district police chief, to whom the complaint was forwarded, even met Mr. Srivastava.
Prima facie it didn’t appear to be murder, said Mr. Prakash. However, if anyone’s involvement comes to light over the fears expressed by the scribe and his reports, action would be taken, he said.
Pratapgarh SP Akash Tomar on Monday inspected the site of the incident and instructed the officials concerned to probe all angles.
Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav demanded a high-level probe. The government should explain why the scribe was not provided security despite his apprehension.
Sangam Lal Gupta, Pratapgarh BJP MP, said on Twitter the circumstances of the death created suspicion.
Editors Guild ‘shocked’
The Editors Guild of India (EGI) said it was “shocked by the cavalier manner” in which the U.P. police were treating the “mysterious death” of the TV journalist.
“The authorities paid no heed to his fears,” it said.
The death came at a time when media was facing increasing pressures from the Central and State governments who insisted that they follow the official narrative regarding the administration’s handling of the pandemic, the EGI said in a statement.