Police have detained two people in connection with the murder of senior journalist Rajdeo Ranjan, Siwan superintendent of police Saurabh Kumar Sah said on Saturday. The two are being interrogated, he added.
Five people on motorcycles reportedly opened fire at Ranjan, the Siwan bureau chief of the Hindi daily Hindustan, as he was heading home from work on Friday. While one of the bullets hit Ranjan in the head, another struck him on his neck. He was declared dead on arrival at the nearest hospital.
Ranjan had been employed with Hindustan — a sister concern of Hindustan Times — for 20 years. Investigators, who recovered five empty cartridges from the spot, were yet to ascertain the motive behind the murder.
The senior journalist’s murder mounted further pressure on the Nitish Kumar government, which is already reeling in the aftermath of the road-rage murder of a teenager at the hands of Rocky Yadav, the son of a JD(U) legislator.
Read: Rajdeo Ranjan, bureau chief of Hindustan, shot dead in Bihar’s Siwan
The BJP grabbed the opportunity to attack the state government over the deteriorating “law-and-order situation in the state”. Taunting Kumar, party spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said that while the chief minister was visiting Benaras, Biharis were migrating out of the state because “criminals rule the roost”.
Hussain described the killing of Ranjan as an attack on the “fourth pillar” of democracy. “The law-and-order situation in Bihar has become so bad that people are migrating out. It is not jungle raj but maha jungle raj here,” he said.
However, JD(U) leader Ajay Alok told ANI that the culprits would be nabbed in 48 hours. “No matter who the criminals are, the government is determined to hunt them down…” he said.
According to colleagues, Ranjan was supposed to celebrate his 14th wedding anniversary with a gala party on Saturday. Sources said he was threatened with dire consequences on many occasions in the past.
India is considered one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world with political influence mixed with a nexus between criminals and industry causing a surge in crimes against reporters. A 2015 study by Reporters Without Borders said India was the deadliest for journalists in Asia, ahead of both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Nine journalists were killed in the country last year, with only war-torn Syria and Iraq recording more deaths.
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