Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders on Monday said that it was appalled by the murder of freelance journalist and Right to Information activist Buddhinath Jha last week. It urged authorities to identify the culprits and bring them to justice.
The charred body of the journalist, also known as Avinash Jha, was found beside a highway in Bihar’s Madhubani district on November 12. His family alleged that he had been kidnapped four days ago. His brother Chandrashekhar Jha filed a missing complaint with the police, which was later converted into a murder case.
In an investigative report, Jha had revealed the names of fake clinics in the district. The report had led to the closure of some of the unauthorised clinics and the authorities imposed a fine on a few others.
Reporters Without Borders, also known as RSF, noted that two days before Jha disappeared, he had identified many such illegal clinics in a Facebook post.
Daniel Bastard, the head of the Asia-Pacific Desk at the organisation, said that Jha’s death was all the more shocking because he “clearly paid for his work and journalistic integrity with his life”.
“We call on Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar to order an independent investigation that sheds all possible light on this appalling murder and identifies the instigators,” Bastard said. “Impunity for crimes of violence against journalists in India must end.”
Reporters Without Borders said that this was the fourth instance in the past six months of a journalist having been killed for their work in India. It referred to the deaths of journalists Raman Kashyap, Chenna Kesavulu and Sulabh Srivastava.
India is ranked 142nd among 180 countries in the organisation’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index.
Meanwhile, the Bihar Police have arrested six people in connection with Jha’s death, The Hindu reported. The six persons are Roshan Kumar Sah, Bittu Kumar Pandit, Deepak Kumar Pandit, Manish Kumar, Pawan Kumar and Purnakala Devi.
The police have claimed that Devi told them that she was in love with Jha, and Pawan Kumar was in love with her. They have alleged that Pawan Kumar would put pressure on Devi to not have any relations with Jha.
“But, we’re also investigating the case on the charge of alleged involvement of the clinic and nursing home owners who are named in the FIR lodged by Chandrashekhar Jha,” Senior police official Arun Kumar Singh said, The Hindu reported.