A journalist was shot dead in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia district on Monday night, reported PTI. The police have arrested six men in connection with the journalist’s killing so far.
Ratan Singh, a journalist with a Hindi news channel, was attacked around 9 pm at Khetna village in Phephana area of Ballia district. The police, however, said the attack has nothing to do with Singh’s professional work.
The police said the reason behind the attack was a property dispute. They said Singh’s family had been involved in the dispute with the accused over a house in his village for the last few years.
“Ratan had a dispute regarding a property with his neighbour,” Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said. “On Monday evening, there was a fight between the two sides, and the neighbour shot at him. Accused Dinesh Singh is also Ratan Singh’s parcener.” Kumar said action under the National Security Act and Gangster Act will be taken against the four accused.
Additional Superintendent of Police Sanjay Yadav, meanwhile, said that the police officer overseeing the area where Singh was killed has been suspended.
Yadav added that the journalist’s father, Binod Singh, told the police that one of the accused had called his son and asked him to come to his house on Monday night. The journalist’s father alleged that the accused were waiting for his son with sticks and a revolver and killed him.
Singh’s father, however, countered the police’s claim, reported NDTV. “There was no property dispute,” he said. “Please go to the spot and see for yourself. The police is spinning the story.”
A senior officer said cross FIRs were registered against both the parties in 2019 in connection with the property dispute. A case was registered against Ratan Singh, but his name was later cleared.
Chief Minister Adityanath has announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for Singh’s family. The chief minister “has expressed his deepest deepest condolences and also directed that all possible action be taken against the accused,” his office said in a statement on Tuesday. The Ballia Working Journalist Union demanded that Singh’s family be given a compensation of Rs 1 crore, according to PTI. They also asked the government to provide a job to Singh’s wife.
Bahujan Samaj Party President Mayawati attacked the UP government over the state’s law and order situation. “In the state of Uttar Pradesh, crime rate is increasing every day,” she was quoted as saying by ANI. “Now, the situation has arrived when the fourth pillar of democracy, our media personnel are being targeted. It shows that the law and order situation in the state is miserable.”
Uttar Pradesh has seen a spate of fatal attacks on journalists in the last two months. On June 19, Shubham Tripathi, a local correspondent for the Kampu Mail, a Hindi daily, died on the spot after he was shot in the head by unidentified persons. The incident came days after Tripathi, in a Facebook post, had said he feared he could be killed by the sand mafia because of his investigations into land expropriations linked to illegal sand mining.
On June 20, journalist Vikram Joshi was shot at near his residence in Ghaziabad. He died at a hospital two days later. Nine people have been arrested in the case so far after a CCTV camera captured the assault.