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West Bengal journalist who covered corruption reported missing in India

This statement was originally published on on 3 August 2015.

A correspondent who wrote about corruption for a Bengali-language daily has been reported missing in the Indian state of West Bengal, according to news reports. Chayan Sarkar's disappearance comes as a number of journalists have been attacked after reporting on corruption around India.

"Reporting on corruption poses tremendous risks to journalists across India," said CPJ Asia Research Associate Sumit Galhotra. "We call on authorities to aggressively pursue all leads in the search for journalist Chayan Sarkar and to ensure his safe return."

The family of Sarkar, a correspondent based in the Alipurduar district for the daily Uttarbanga Sangbad, said the journalist had been missing since Sunday morning, according to the news agency the Press Trust of India and Sabyasachi Talukdar, the paper's editor who spoke to CPJ by phone. The journalist's bike, notebook, and wallet were found near a railway station, the sources said.

A few hours before he was reported missing, Sarkar had filed a police report in connection with a recent attack on his home. On July 28, dozens of individuals had thrown stones at Sarkar's home and threatened him verbally about his reporting, according to Talukdar and news reports. Talukdar said the individuals carried flags affiliated with the All India Trinamool Congress party, which rules in the state. CPJ's calls to the phone number listed on the website of the Trinamool Congress party were not answered.

The attack on Sarkar's home followed a story published in Uttarbanga Sangbad in which he wrote about a college admissions scandal in the state which allegedly implicated the All India Trinamool Congress in corruption, according to Talukdar and news reports. Sarkar, who has worked for the paper for years, has also written investigative stories on politics, local corruption, land acquisitions, and local mafias.

Dilip Kumar Adak, the deputy inspector general of the Crime Investigation Department, which is the investigative and intelligence wing of the state police, said today that police were unable to say if Sarkar had been abducted, according to news reports. State police on Sunday arrested eight suspects in connection with the case, news reports said. They were all released today, Talukdar told CPJ.

Mamata Banerjee, the state's chief minister and also the Trinamool Congress party leader, told journalists that an investigation was being carried out into his disappearance, reports said.

Last month, Akshay Singh, an investigative journalist for the private Hindi news channel Aaj Tak, died under mysterious circumstances in Madhya Pradesh following his investigation into the billion-dollar Vyapam corruption scandal in which hundreds of individuals have been accused of rigging exams and giving or taking bribes, according to news reports. Dozens of individuals have died in unclear circumstances in connection with the case, according to news reports.

In June, journalist Jagendra Singh, who reported critically on a member of the ruling party in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, was set on fire and later died of his injuries.

For data and analysis on India, visit CPJ's India page.

What other IFEX members are saying
  • Journalist missing after investigative report

    The IJU said: "It is strange that no clue is available on the missing journalist even after four days, [this] raises questions over the investigation process, notwithstanding the assertions of state government spokespersons that the police are conducting a special drive to trace him."

  • Renewed call for protection plan after third journalist murdered

    Reporters Without Borders appeals again to the Indian government to set up a national plan for the protection of journalists amid a continuing wave of physical attacks on media personnel.

  • IFJ, IJU condemn murder of third journalist in India

    The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) strongly condemn the murder of journalist Raghavendra Dubey on Friday, July 17 in Mumbai, India. The IFJ and the IJU demand an immediate investigation into this murder and the worsening safety situation for the media in India.

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