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Journalist dies of injuries suffered in attack

(IPI/IFEX) - VIENNA, March 6, 2012 - An Indian journalist hospitalised after being beaten over the head by unknown assailants died on Friday of his injuries while being transferred to a second hospital after his condition deteriorated.

Indian media reported that the journalist, Rajesh Mishra, worked as an editor for "Media Raj", a Hindi weekly published in the city of Rewa, Madya Pradesh state.

According to the Hindustan Times, Mishra had, prior to the attack, received telephone threats over articles alleging "irregularities" in a chain of boarding schools owned by Rajneesh Banerjee, owner of another Rewa-based Hindi newspaper, "Vindhya Bharat".

The paper said on Sunday that police had arrested five people in connection with the murder, including Banerjee and an editor for "Vindhya Bharat", Anil Tripathi.

According to media accounts, Tripathi on Thursday had invited Mishra to a tea stall. While the two were talking, two unidentified individuals struck Mishra on the head with an unspecified object and fled the scene. Mishra was originally admitted to a local hospital but his condition later necessitated a transfer to a medical facility in the much larger city of Jabalpur.

Mishra's death occurred while representatives of the International Press Institute (IPI), including IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel-McKenzie, were in India on a press freedom mission.

"Numerous Indian journalists whom we met in the course of our ongoing visit to India told us that violence against journalists remains a problem in India, particularly in the provinces far away from the Delhi capital," Bethel-McKenzie said. "Many of these attacks even remain unreported, or are reported only in the local language press and not covered by the national media outlets."

She added: "We extend our condolences to the family of Rajesh Mishra and we urge the Indian authorities to ensure a thorough investigation into this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice."

Another Madya Pradesh journalist, Chandrika Rai, was murdered in his home along with his wife and two children on 18 February. While early reports suggested a link between Rai's killing and his reporting on illegal coal mining in the region, police announced to the media on Friday they had determined that Rai's driver had killed the journalist and his family for money.

According to IPI's Death Watch, two journalists were killed in India in 2011. Umesh Rajput, a reporter for the Hindi daily "Nai Duniya" was shot outside his home in Raipur, Chhattisgarh state on Jan. 23. On Jun. 10, gunmen killed Mumbai editor and investigative journalist Jyotirmoy Dey in broad daylight in what was seen as a carefully planned assassination.

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