Will UP’s Journalists Ever Feel Safe? Sahara Samay Reporter Ratan Singh Shot Dead in Ballia

Social Commentary

Will UP’s Journalists Ever Feel Safe? Sahara Samay Reporter Ratan Singh Shot Dead in Ballia

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

Uttar Pradesh has been synonymous with “lawlessness”, “goondaism” and “jungle raj”. In a fresh incident that lends further credence to this belief, a journalist was shot dead by three men in the state’s Ballia district.

Forty-two-year-old Ratan Singh, associated with the news channel Sahara Samay, was shot around 9 PM on Monday near his house. The police has alleged that there was a land dispute at play, a theory that the family has denied.

Ratan’s father Binod Singh told journalists, “There was no property dispute. Please go to the spot and see for yourself. The police are spinning the story.”

The three men allegedly involved in the attack have been arrested. According to additional chief secretary, home, Awanish Awasthi, all three were neighbours of the journalist and the murder was a result of an old land dispute between the two sides.

DIG, Azamgarh Range, Subash Chandra Dubey stated that the murder was not a result of any story or report covered by the journalist. “Preliminary probe has suggested that the two parties had fought over a piece of land in their village in December 2019. Both the parties had lodged a cross-FIR in the case. On Monday, the victim had placed his haystack, which ensued in a verbal spat, following which the opposite party started beating him. To save his life, the scribe ran away from the scene. The miscreants chased and shot at him,” he said.

Expressing condolences to the family of Ratan Singh, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath announced an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh to the next kin of the journalist and assured action against the accused involved in the murder.

Incidents of violence have been the norm in Uttar Pradesh. Last month, another journalist was shot dead in front of his two daughters in UP’s Ghaziabad. Vikram Joshi, 35, was shot days after he had filed a complaint with the Vijay Nagar police station stating that some men were harassing his niece.

A chargesheet has been filed by the police in which 10 people have been booked. Nine of them were arrested within 24 hours and the last accused on August 5. Yogi Adityanath had announced Rs 10 lakh for Joshi’s family too.

Recurring instances of violence raise serious concerns over the state of law and order in the state. Or dare we say, it is Ram Bharose.