Lives of journalists remain vulnerable

The fast deteriorating turbulent law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh has knocked the gateway of nation capital, Ghaziabad, with alarming upsurge of violent crimes, where allegedly patronized unafraid criminals have shot dead a local young journalist, Vikram Joshi in full public view.

It caused terrorising effect among peace-loving citizens. The murder once again raised questions about the security of college going girls who are scared and feel threatened due to horrible incidents of eve teasing and molestation they face every day.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath-led government has yet again come under firing zone over the conspicuous murder of scribe Vikram Joshi and clueless police failed to work out kidnapping case of a government contractor. Some organised gang of criminals kidnapped him on his way back to his residence in the evening of June 26 in Ghaziabad during lockdown and heavy restrictions on vehicular movement due to barricades.

The protests witnessed in the town from the media and public over crumbled law and order situation raising sense of insecurity among the residents. India ranked at 142 out of 180 countries and territories in World Press Freedom Index 2020 of Reporters Sans Boarders (RSF).

In this case, Vikram Joshi, 35, was a reporter with a local Hindi newspaper Jansagar Times in Ghaziabad, a district bordering India’s capital Delhi. Nine assailants shot him on the back of his head while he was returning from his sister’s house with his two small daughters, aged 5 and 11 on a two wheeler. The incident took place on July 20 around 10.30 in night, critically injuring him. He succumbed to his injuries on July 22. The murder was captured on CCTV camera. The video footage shows his daughter helplessly crying, running around to her father and screaming to draw attention of the neighbourhood.

Four days before he was shot, on July 16, Joshi had filed a police complaint for her sister against an individual identified as Ravi and his anti-social mates, who allegedly stalked and sexually harassed her 17-year-old daughter (niece of Joshi).

The complaint mentioned that four men including Ravi buttonholed his niece while she was buying groceries with her younger brother. When the brother objected, they had bitterly beaten the boy with sticks. The complaint also alleged that they were drunk. The police, however, did not register Joshi’s first information report (FIR) to investigate it.

The complaint reportedly irked Ravi, who started threatening Joshi. Ravi reportedly turned up outside Joshi’s sister’s house with his miscreant friends when Vikram was there with his daughters to attend birthday celebrations on the night of the murderous attack. Joshi called the area’s police inspector about the threat. His family alleged that the inspector refused to turn up.

On July 16, he also molested the niece of journalist Vikram Joshi. On receiving information, Vikram challenged these youths. Some other neighbours also came and drove the stray youths away. While leaving, the youth threatened to see Vikram Joshi.

Vikram immediately approached the local police outpost incharge and sought the safety of life and property. Outpost incharge kept his complaint, and told Vikram to go. Vikram was upset as he himself saw two of the accused youths seated near the concerned in-charge apparently; hand in gloves with the cops. Anticipating no results, Vikram reached the police station and handed over complaint of her sister to SHO Vijay Nagar police station and requested him to register an FIR. Here too he got disappointed as no investigation followed.

Vikram Joshi was later threatened by the accused youths to eliminate him. The next day along with two of his fellow colleagues of his newspaper they met the SSP Kalanidhi Naithani and apprised him as well about the treat to his life, as the miscreants continued to threaten him following his complaint to the police. He too took it lightly and ordered inquiry into the matter.

The Yogi government has announced a compensation of 10 lakh to Vikram’s family, government job to his wife and free education to the girl child, but has disappointed everyone by sparing action against senior police officers who failed to judge the threat perception despite request from deceased journo.

Joshi’s kin told media an individual only identified as Chhotu threw a glass bottle outside the house and hurled abuses before shooting him. The incident has led to nationwide outrage. Various political leaders condemned police inaction and the crime rate in the state. On July 22, a group of journalists protested outside Yashoda Hospital against their colleague’s murder.

“Journalist Vikram Joshi was shot in front of his daughter for opposing molestation of her niece. He died today. Jungle Raj has increased so much in UP that after complaining, the common man is afraid of miscreants. The BJP government has failed the crime issue like the previous governments,” twitted Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi severely attacking BJP governance.

BSP chief Mayawati said that, “The way floods of grave crimes against women have come that demonstrate that in UP rule of law has collapsed and jungle rule prevails.”

“The crime virus among criminals is growing faster than Corona,” she added, expressing condolences to the bereaved family members of slain journalist.

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav took a jibe on the BJP rule. He tweeted, “People of the state are in a position shock over shoot out of a journalist going on a bike with his daughter in Ghaziabad. The BJP government should clarify on whose support such criminals and miscreants are flourishing.”

Demanding strictest punishment for the killers of Vikram Joshi,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi, “The murder of Vikram Joshi, who was raising voice against molestation of his niece, raised a lot of questions on our law and order system.”

Soon after the news of the death of Joshi flashed, the media bodies unanimously condemned the attack on Joshi, who succumbed to his injuries during treatment, and demanded a judicial probe into it as well as other incidents of assault on scribes in Uttar Pradesh.

Observing that attack on journalists, especially in Uttar Pradesh, has been increasing in the recent times, the Press Association and the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) demanded that the Uttar Pradesh government bring to book all the culprits in the attack on Joshi as well as in other assault on scribes in the state.

Later as a measure of damage control, finally Ghaziabad police chief Kalanidhi Naithani swung into action after all-round condemnation and informed that Police has suspended for negligence the police station incharge of the area where journalist Vikram Joshi was shot at and subsequently died at a hospital. The police initially arrested five accused soon after the death of the scribe and subsequently arrested all the nine accused.

Earlier in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh, another journalist Shubham Mani Tripathi, a reporter for the Hindi-language Kampu Mail newspaper was shot dead who was writing against sand mafia and land grabbers. He mentioned in his recent Facebook post that he feared he could be killed because of his investigations into illegal land expropriation by the local “sand mafia.”

The latest report of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2018 revealed that the UP has the highest share of crimes against women in India. Police register a rape every two hour. The NCRB data also highlights a rampant culture of stalking in India — with one case every 55 minutes — along with its underreporting. Additionally, even though the rate of filing charge sheets in rape and molestation cases is 85.3 per cent across India but the conviction rate is alarmingly low at 27.2 per cent.

Kidnapping of renowned government contractor Vikram Tyagi has worsened the law and order situation. Contractor Tyagi left his office at Patel Nagar in Ghaziabad for his residence at Rajnagar Extension in an Innova car. At 7:35 pm his brother called him last and talked about some business to which he replied that in a little while within 5-7 minutes he is reaching home then will talk. Thereafter his mobile turned stationary at 7:40 pm, which is still switched off till date.

On 22 July, about a thousand people gathered in Ambedkar Park in Ghaziabad near in the Navyug Market to protest against growing crime and inability of police to check and control brazen criminals. Leaders of industry, business and political organizations and people from social organizations along with local journalists took part in this demonstration organized by Builders Association of India and the National Association of Railway Contractors.

Wife seeks instant justice in Joshi’s murder case

Kavita, the spouse of journalist Vikram Joshi, sought instant justice from Yogi Adityanath as given to slain police officer Devendra Mishra and six other cops.

Inconsolable Kavita desired that police should shot down the killers in encounter. “On Monday, the attackers attacked the journalist Vikram Joshi. My elder daughter was pleading mercy to avoid the assassination of her daddy. The killers scolded and threatened the daughter that if you do not run away we will kill you too; however, she kept making noise to avoid assassination her daddy.”

Chahat, the elder daughter of slain journo recalled ghastly act and told media, “I went to my aunt’s home together with my younger sister Bani and father Vikram to join the birthday celebrations of my cousin. When we were getting late, I asked my father to go residence. The preplanned miscreants surrounded us only just after a few minutes away from the home, many youths pushed the bike and pulled up his bike and strangled the daddy with swag. A young man fired behind his neck and they fled away as our relatives and residents rushed there listening our screams but no passersby stopped to help us.”

Kavita said that she didn’t even her wildest imaginations could dream that such a barbaric incident may happen to him. He typically stayed together with his elder sister. So there was no chance of untoward incident.

She pleaded instant justice to shot them dead. Their mom, sister and spouse may even undergo the same trauma that we are passing through. Our complete life was devastated.

Bereaved wife Kavita demanded a job from the government with monetary compensation for sustain her family and needs of the daughters.