ITANAGAR, 26 May: Reporters without Borders (RSF) has called for an immediate and independent investigation into the murder of Subhash Kumar Mahto, a 26-year-old reporter known for his reporting on mafia who was shot in the head outside his home in Bihar.
His murderers must be brought to justice without delay, the RSF said on Thursday.
Mahto had just returned from a wedding party on the evening of 20 May and was in front of his home in Sakho village when a gunman fired a single shot to his head at close range. Rushed to a local hospital, he was pronounced dead on arrival.
A stringer for Hindi-language newspapers and a local TV channel and active on Public app, an Indian local news sharing platform, Mahto was known for his investigative reporting on the liquor and sand mafias.
His father said Mahto reported receiving death threats to the police six months ago. But, before carrying out an investigation, the local police ruled out any link between his murder and his journalism, suggesting that it was probably the result of his support for a candidate in the recent local elections.
“We are horrified by this execution-style murder and call on the Indian authorities to order an independent investigation so that Subhash Kumar Mahto’s killers can be brought to justice as quickly as possible,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.
“In view of his reporting implicating local criminal groups, it is crucial that the investigation should continue to consider the possibility of a link to his work until the facts prove otherwise,” he said.
India is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, with an average of three or four killed in connection with their work every year. Mahto is the second to be killed since the start of 2022.
The first was Rohit Kumar Biswal, a newspaper photographer in Odisha who was killed by improvised explosive device while reporting on 5 February.