Late on Monday night, news of yet another journalist being murdered in cold blood came in from Ballia district of Uttar Pradesh. The victim identified as Ratan Singh, is a journalist with Hindi news channel. According to police, he was shot dead allegedly in the village head’s residence, after being beaten. The victim’s own house is close by. The police had earlier stated that there was a “property dispute” behind the murder. However, on Tuesday morning up before he was shot inside which is just 700 metres from the victim’s house.
The Balia Police has said that the murder was a result of “an old dispute with the Patidars, in which other legal proceedings are being taken under immediate custody of 03 accused.” The police claimed that the murder had “no relation to journalism.”
उक्त प्रकरण के संबंध में अवगत कराना है कि इनका पाटीदारों से पुराना विवाद था, जिसमें 03 अभियुक्तों को तत्काल हिरासत में लेकर अन्य विधिक कार्यवाही की जा रही है।उक्त घटना का पत्रकारिता से कोई संबंध नहीं है। @Uppolice
— Ballia Police (@balliapolice) August 24, 2020
However, according to a video clip shared by NDTV journalist Alok Pandey, Singh’s father has countered Ballia Police’s claims that the journalist was chased and shot dead over a property dispute that escalated last night. The father categorically says there was no property dispute at all…
The @balliapolice is saying journalist Ratan Singh was chased and shot dead over a property dispute that escalated last night . This is Mr Singh ‘s father, late last night , unequivocally denying this … pic.twitter.com/VDDh3OP7z1
— Alok Pandey (@alok_pandey) August 25, 2020
The 42-year-old journalist was shot dead at Khetna village in Fefna area of Ballia district on Monday evening, said news reports. The police have detained three persons, said to be “distant relatives” of the slain journalist. “We are trying to find why the victim went to the pradhan’s house. It is suspected that the victim was beaten up before being shot. Village pradhan Seema Singh’s husband, Jhabhar Singh, is currently absconding,” Circle Officer (Fefna) Chandrakesh Singh, was quoted in the news reports, he reportedly said that “the victim’s family is yet to file a complaint.”
However, many journalists have raised the issue of the increasing number of attacks on the media in Uttar Pradesh. Gujarat based editor Deepal Trivedi put the spotlight on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, drawing his attention to the “Pathetic situation in UP. Besides these three journo murders, 68 FIRs against journalists in UP.”
Pathetic situation in UP. Besides these three journo murders, 68 FIRs against journaliss in UP. As @rohini_sgh succinctly says, UP is not safe. @myogiadityanath what’s happening in your Rule? #journalism https://t.co/CzQftTA79J
— Deepal.Trivedi (@DeepalTrevedie) August 25, 2020
According to broadcast Journalist Brajesh, this lawlessness, and the fact that criminals of the state are feeling ‘encouraged’ is proof enough of the crime situation in the state. Questions have been raised on the sheer fearlessness amongst trigger happy criminals in Uttar Pradesh.
बलिया के बहादुर टीवी पत्रकार भाई रतन सिंह की हत्या कर दी गई. अपराधियों ने घेरकर उनपर गोली बरसाई. हत्यारे बेखौफ थे. बेहद चिंताजनक-दुर्भाग्यपूर्ण घटना. पत्रकारों का दमन और अब उनकी हत्या, गंभीर प्रश्न खड़े करती है. उत्तर प्रदेश में अपराधियों के हौसले बुलंद है. इसका स्पष्ट प्रमाण है|
— Brajesh Misra (@brajeshlive) August 24, 2020
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, too recalled the spate of attacks, including murders of journalists in Uttar Pradesh in the last three months: “19 June – Murder of Shri Shubhamani Tripathi; 20 July – Murder of Shri Vikram Joshi; August 24 – Murder of Mr. Ratan Singh, Ballia. 3 journalists killed in the last 3 months. FIR due to writing news on 11 journalists. The UP government’s attitude towards the safety and freedom of journalists is reprehensible.”
19 जून – श्री शुभममणि त्रिपाठी की हत्या
20 जुलाई – श्री विक्रम जोशी की हत्या
24 अगस्त- श्री रतन सिंह की हत्या, बलिया
पिछले 3 महीनों में 3 पत्रकारों की हत्या।
11 पत्रकारों पर खबर लिखने के चलते FIR।
यूपी सरकार का पत्रकारों की सुरक्षा और स्वतन्त्रता को लेकर ये रवैया निंदनीय है।
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) August 25, 2020
According to the Circle Officer as quoted by Indian Express, on getting information of the shooting, on the premises of the village pradhan’s residence, the police team rushed to the spot and seized the body and came to know that “the journalist had left his home for some work in the evening.” The IE states that the police are looking “into the role of Ratan Singh’s relative, Dinesh Singh, in the case”, and quotes ADG (Law & Order) Prashant Kumar saying Ratan Singh had a dispute with his neighbours. “Today evening, a clash took place between them and during the scuffle, he was shot,” he added.