NHRC notice to the Government of Madhya Pradesh over reports about a truck mowing down a journalist who exposed sand mafia in Bhind (27.03.2018)

PRESS RELEASE

New Delhi, 27th March, 2018
The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report stating that a television journalist, who had complained about threats to his life after he carried a sting operation on illegal sand mining, was mowed down by a truck in Bhind district of Madhya Pradesh on the 26th March, 2018. The deceased, was talking on his phone in front of a police station, when the incident occurred. The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, Madhya Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report if true, indicate towards negligence on the part of administration, especially the police authorities who failed to save a precious human life. The tragic death of the journalist is indicative of violation of human rights as well as democratic values and also callousness of the state administration for not taking appropriate steps protecting the life and safety of the deceased, when reportedly, he had already complaint about the threats to his life. The Commission also noted that it did not receive any such complaint as mentioned in the news report.

The Commission further observed that the death of a journalist, who had reportedly exposed certain unlawful and unauthorized activities, was doing his duty and his death is a matter of concern for it. India is a democratic country and the democracy cannot thrive without Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression. Freedom of Speech and Expression is one of the six freedoms, recognized under Article 19 of the Constitution of India. The Press is considered to be the fourth pillar of the democracy.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also states that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

According to the media reports, carried today on the 27th March, 2018, Sandeep Sharma, the victim working for a local TV channel had expressed apprehension that he could be killed by the sand mafia. Shri Vikas Purohit, nephew of the deceased journalist has made a complaint to the police authorities alleging that his uncle had been facing threat to his life because of the recent sting operation; he had carried out on the sand mafia. He has also mentioned that several authorities, including the Human Rights Commission were informed by the deceased, requesting for his security.

Reportedly, the journalist had to record his statement against one SDPO and was being threatened by some unidentified people. The Superintendent of Police, Bhind has reportedly stated that the application given by the deceased was being examined. It is further mentioned by the Superintendent of Police that a Special Investigation Team has been formed to probe into the matter.

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