A three-member committee, constituted by the Press Council of India
(PCI), has criticised the role of the state police in the death of Uttar Pradesh-based journalist Jagendra Singh.
The panel has recommended that the UP government should get the case investigated by an impartial agency.
Singh, who was a social media journalist in Shahjahanpur and written about alleged involvement of a UP minister in a rape incident, succumbed to burn injuries. While the family alleged Singh was set on fire by the cops acting at the behest of the minister, police reports had claimed that Singh had immolated himself. Singh himself had in a statement recorded on video before his death had said, “At the instance of the minister, police and supporters of the minister poured petrol on me and set me on fire.”
The PCI panel comprising Prakash Dubey, S N Sinha
and Suman Gupta
found that the police did not give security to deceased journalist Jagendra Singh
before his death nor showed any interest in investigation after his death.
“They kept mum on the incidents of brutality and only completed documentary formalities. Instead of taking statement of Mr. Singh, police officials approached his residence with the intention to arrest him for conducting inquiry in the case filed against him,” the committee report said.
The call records of the deceased journalist, had showed that he got a call from a person named Anil Verma to come from Khutar at 9:24 pm, the call lasted for 49 seconds. The panel has accused the police officials that they did not pay heed to this while conducting the inquiry, where one MLA is also involved in this case.
The incidents of using names of women for character assassination of journalists, to pressurise them are increasing day by day, the panel said. The police has also mentioned the presence of an Aaganvadi worker, Shalini in Mr. Singh’s house but they did not care to find her and take her statement.
The panel slammed the district administrations of Shahjahanpur for taking this incident lightly, as they did not spare time to meet the deceased or his family members. It added that the administration finds it improper to go to the house of deceased to collect information regarding the incident. “To avoid conducting inquiry on time, to declare a person, criminal even before taking any decision, to publicise it and the tendency to write favouring himself and against the opposition encourages misdeeds,” the report said.