MAC: Mines and Communities

Another murder linked to India's "coal mafia"

Published by MAC on 2012-02-28
Source: Statement, The Hindu

Yet another Indian anti mining activist" and his family have been murdered in India, just three months after Sister Valsa John was killed, allegedly by the "coal mafia". See: Behind the Murder At Pachuwara, India

Once again, police have failed to identify the culprits, as suspicions are raised about the role of those responsible for a kidnapping, and others involved in a "land dispute".


Journalist, family murdered; hand of mining mafia suspected

By Mahim Pratap Singh

The Hindu

19 February 2012

Chandrika Rai had been writing consistently against illegal racket

The brutal murder of a senior journalist and his entire family on Saturday night in Madhya Pradesh's Umaria distict, over 450 km from here, has sent shockwaves across the State with fingers being pointed at the illegal coal mining mafia active in the region.

Journalist Chandrika Rai (42), his wife Durga (40) and their two teenage children - son Jalaj (19) and daughter Nisha (17) - were murdered using a sharp object at their residence, police said. The bodies were found in four separate rooms.

Mr. Rai was a freelance journalist who contributed regularly to the Hindi daily Navbharat and English daily The Hitavada. He had been writing consistently against the illegal coal mining in the region. He had written a series of articles alleging the involvement of a local BJP leader in illegal mining.

The district is known for the Umaria coalfield under the control of the South Eastern Coalfields Ltd. However, illegal coal mining is also rampant in the region.

"The local illegal mining mafia has resorted to this horrific crime to silence the power of his pen," said Congress MLA and leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Ajay Singh. "The BJP government gives open protection to the local mining mafia. Recently Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and some of his Ministers were seen sharing the stage with wanted criminals. In such a situation, criminals have no fear of the law and commit such mind-numbing crimes with impunity whenever their interests are harmed."

The crime came to light when Mr. Rai's brother broke open the door on Saturday evening after he became suspicious on seeing it locked from the outside the entire day.

Linked to abduction?

The Umaria police believe the murders could also be linked to the kidnap of the seven-year-old son of a government official for ransom on Wednesday. He was rescued by the police on Thursday.

"DGP Raut visited the crime scene on Sunday and has ordered an STF probe," Umaria SP Manohar Singh Jamara told The Hindu. "He also spoke to journalists here and assured them that the criminals would be brought to book as soon as possible. We have constituted a team to look into the crime and assist the STF which will arrive here tomorrow [Monday]."

Land dispute

Another angle the police are investigating relates to a land dispute involving Mr. Rai and another local individual.

Indian journalist and his family found dead

Committee to Protect Journalists

21 February 2012

New York - The Committee to Protect Journalists is outraged by the murder of a senior journalist in India and calls on authorities to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into his death.

Indian journalist Chandrika Rai, his wife, and two teenage children were found bludgeoned to death in their home in Umaria, a town in Madhya Pradesh state in central India, according to news reports. Rai, 42, worked for two Hindi-language dailies, Navbharat and Hitavada.

Rai had been investigating illegal mining in Umaria, which lies in a prominent coal-mining region of the country, Shalabh Bhadoria, president of Madhya Pradesh Union of Working Journalists, a local press freedom group, told CPJ. Other news accounts reported that his murder could be linked to the kidnapping of a local official's son.

At a press conference on the day Rai was murdered, the journalist contradicted a government official's claim that two suspects in the kidnapping were not guilty, local journalists said. Police also said his death could be connected with a personal land dispute, news reports said.

Bhadoria said the press freedom group was pushing for authorities to hand the case over to the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's main investigative agency, rather than rely on local police.

"We express our deepest sympathy to the family and colleagues of Chandrika Rai," said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator. "Considering that Rai had been working on sensitive local issues, we urge that federal authorities launch a quick and thorough investigation into this case."

On Monday, journalists in Madhya Pradesh protested the killing by wearing black bands to work, news reports said.

India ranks 13th on CPJ's global Impunity Index, which calculates unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country's population. At least seven journalist murders have gone unsolved since 1992, CPJ research shows. Reporters covering business and corruption are particularly vulnerable, CPJ research shows.

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