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TWO JOURNALISTS KILLED IN NORTHEAST IN SEPARATE INCIDENTS

Two journalists were killed last week in northeast India, report the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Jagajit Saikia, a correspondent for the Assamese language daily "Amar Asom", was shot dead by a group of men on 22 November as he was leaving his office in Kokrajhar, in the northeastern state of Assam.

According to IFJ, police sources said any one of the militant groups active in the area could be responsible for Saikia's murder. Saikia frequently wrote about rivalries among the armed groups fighting over control of Kokrajhar and neighbouring districts that are ethnically Bodo.

IFJ is appealing to state security agencies and militant groups in the north-east to respect the right of journalists to access information from all sides of a conflict situation. "This requires, above all, that the non-combatant status of journalists in zones of armed conflict and insurgency be treated as an inviolable principle," says IFJ. IFJ is supporting a new local campaign that demands action to end violence against media personnel in Assam.

Saikia is the second journalist murdered in India's northeast in the past week. On 17 November, Konsam Rishikanta, 22, was killed in Imphal, the capital of the state of Manipur.

Rishikanta was a young trainee journalist working for the "Imphal Free Press", an English daily in Manipur. The motive for the murder is not yet known and no group has claimed responsibility.

Journalists in Manipur have been on strike to protest his murder and to draw attention to security threats. According to CPJ and IFJ, they are vulnerable to pressure from both local insurgent groups and state officials, seeking to publicise their respective viewpoints.

Daily newspapers are refusing to publish and a large rally was planned on 26 November against the government's "inaction" in calling for a judicial inquiry.

According to local news reports, Rishikanta was the fifth reporter to be killed in Manipur with impunity.

Visit these links:
- IFJ: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/98780/
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/5t76rh
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=29402
- "The Hindu": http://tinyurl.com/5bqytj
(26 November 2008)

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