India: Journalist killed after exposing controversial sand-mining deals

Reporter Shubham Mani Tripathi was fatally shot in the Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao district on June 19 in a suspected retaliatory attack for his journalism. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate in India, the National Union of Journalists - India (NUJ (I), call on the government of Uttar Pradesh urgently enact protections for journalists.

Credit: Shubham Mani Tripathi/Facebook

Tripathi, a 25-year old journalist with Kampu Mail, was covering controversial land mine disputes prior to his death. He actively posted online and petitioned local authorities to stop a member of ‘land mafias’, from claiming large sections of government land. ‘Land mafias’ are a common problem in India, local influential people who collaborate with corrupt officials to illegally buy and sell land for profit. Tripathi received several threats online from locals following his investigation into the illegal actions of the ‘land mafia’ and had expressed fears on his Facebook page that there would be harsh retaliation for his work.

On June 19, he was shot multiple times by assailants while riding home and died from his injuriesl. Three suspects have been arrested and a police statement alleges that the suspect involved is Divya Awasthi, who indirectly paid Ahmed and Bari to shoot Tripathi.

The protections for Indian journalists have long been lacking and impunity persists as justice has rarely been brought for any journalists who are killed for their workNine journalists were killed in India in 2019.

The NUJ (I) said it was suspected that the culprits are associated with “influential people” in Uttar Pradesh and similar incidents involving the sand-mining mafia have taken place over recent years.

NUJ (I) says:  “NUJ (I) expresses its deep concern over the brutal killing of an investigative journalist in Uttar Pradesh. We demand exemplary punishment against the culprits and strong legislative measures to provide protection to journalists doing investigative journalism.”   

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger: IFJ is deeply saddened by this loss of life and offer condolences to Tripathi’s family and friends. This recent incident is evidence that much more needs to be done to protect journalists in India. IFJ calls for the government topublicly hold those involved accountable and to strengthen support for all journalists in the country.”