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Journalist of UP’s Unnao awarded with death for his fearless journalism against sand mafia

A Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Divya Awasthi plotted the 23-years-old journalist's death when he was found hindering an illegal construction.

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A young journalist for a Kanpur-based newspaper was allegedly gunned down in broad daylight near the Ganga ghat area in UP’s Unnao district, about 6 KM from Lucknow, on Friday (June 19) evening, at the behest of ‘sand-mafia’ and illegal land grabbers active in the region.

“The journalist Shubham Mani Tripathi, 23, was a district correspondent based in Unnao for a regional newspaper Kampu Mail published from Kanpur. He had joined newspaper seven months ago”, Ritesh Shukla, bureau chief of Kampu Mail, told News Click. 

The journalist was open fired by two assailants on Unnao-Shukla Ganj road while he was returning home with a friend on a motorbike. Tripathi died on the spot while his friend managed to run safely according to news media reports.

A local real estate figure Divya Awasthi who is also a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader is said to have arranged the killing of the journalist in retaliation for Tripathi’s articles and Facebook posts about an allegedly illegal construction project she had undertaken. That project was demolished by authorities in response to his reporting, according to the news media reports. 

Unnao Police in a Press Release on Tuesday. (Picture source: Jagran Josh)

Police investigation revealed that a contract of four lakh was given for the murder. At the behest of land-mafia and VHP leader Divya Awasthi, her special henchman Monu, who has been given  Rs. 20,000 in advance.  After finding concrete evidence in the investigation, the lady mafia Divya Awasthi has been declared as the main accused. Police has announced a bounty of five thousand rupees on Monu including ten thousand on her brother-in-law Raghavendra. Unnao police has so far arrested Afshar Ahmed and Abdul Bari, the alleged shooters, and Shahnawaz Azhar, an alleged co-conspirator and teams have been formed to nab those involved in the incident according to a police press release which CPJ reviewed.

“Uttar Pradesh authorities must show that they are taking violent attacks on journalists seriously. The arrest of three suspects in Shubham Mani Tripathi’s killing is a good start, but police must also find the mastermind and all those involved, and hold them all to account,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “We urge Uttar Pradesh authorities to take steps to protect all journalists working in the state. Ensuring that no one can kill with impunity is the most effective measure of all.” 

On his Facebook profile, on June 14, the journalist Shubham Mani, 23, wrote that because of a report he had filed, an illegal construction had been demolished and the ‘famous land mafia’, who got enraged at his action, registered a fake application to the district magistrate against the deceased journalist. 

Despite him, reporting his apprehensions to authorities on June 15, that he had been receiving threats, he might be killed as a consequence of his investigation into land expropriations, police did not take cognizance of the matter.

Shubham was a born patriot. He was a young and spirited journalist. He used to send news regarding crime and land mafias. He was recently married to Rashi Dixit. Shubham even received death threats from unknown individuals, suspected to be illegal miners, for his news coverage But, the courageous scribe did not bother and continued his journalistic activities according to  IFJ press release.

The murder of the young journalist has sent shock waves throughout the UP and in the journalist community as the state has become dangerous for journalists. The state government led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has become notorious when it comes to dealing with journalists.

According to a report issued this week by Rights & Risks Analysis Group (RRAG), an independent think-tank, 11 of 55 cases of persecution of journalists have been reported from the state.

The incident comes close on the heels of an FIR against Supriya Sharma, executive editor of Scroll.in which had gained world-wide attention with Editor’s Guild and Reporters Sans Border condemning the case.

Input From: NewsClick

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