Shivraj Chouhan orders CBI inquiry into death of journalist who exposed police-mining mafia nexus in MP
CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced the decision to recommend a CBI inquiry during a meeting with top officials.india Updated: Mar 27, 2018 20:28 IST
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday recommended a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the death of journalist Sandeep Sharma, whose family and colleagues as well the opposition Congress party alleged he had been murdered .
Sharma, credited with exposing a nexus between police and the sand mining mafia in the state’s Chambal region, was on his way to the Press Club in Bhind on his motorcycle on Monday when a dumper truck hit him from behind. The 35-year-old died on the spot while the truck driver sped away.
Government officials said Chouhan announced the decision to recommend a CBI inquiry during a meeting with top officials, including chief secretary BP Singh, director general of police Rishi Kumar Shukla and others. At the meeting, the law and order situation in the state was discussed.
Inspector general of police (Chambal division) Santosh Singh said Bhind police had arrested the owner of the truck, Bhaskar Sharma, a resident of Gwalior, and were interrogating him.
“The driver told the police that he was taking the truck to a garage for repair when the accident took place. We are trying to check the veracity of his statement,” he added.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also issued notices to the chief secretary and director general of police and asked for detailed report within four weeks.
“The tragic death of the journalist is indicative of violation of human rights as well as democratic values and also callousness of the state administration”, the NHRC said in a statement.
Sharma, who worked with the News World channel, had been fearful that he would either be killed in a road accident or implicated on false charges, and had written to the police about his concerns in November. He carried out a sting operation on alleged links between the sand mining mafia and the police in July-August last year that was aired by his channel in October.
The local superintendent of police had shifted some police officers and personnel after footage of the operation was aired, but no disciplinary action was taken against them. Also, no security cover was provided to Sharma even after the threat perception, local journalists said.
A delegation of journalists of Bhind handed over a memorandum to the collector, addressed to governor Anandiben Patel, demanding Rs 25 lakhs as ex-gratia payment to the family of journalist, admission of his two children in the government-run Kendriya Vidyalaya and a job for his wife.
Vivek Sharma, a friend of Sandeep Sharma, said they didn’t trust the police investigation, which he said had been biased from the day one.
“Sandeep Sharma faced a threat to his life from mining mafia and police after the sting operation. He submitted an application to the superintendent of police Prashant Khare in November expressing (fears of) a threat to his life from a police officer and mining mafia and demanded security but the police didn’t act,” Vivek Sharma said.
“We also wrote to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan but nothing happened. And the result was Sandeep was murdered. Since I was with Sandeep in the execution of the sting operation I also face a threat to my life,” he added.
The opposition Congress had also blamed the government for Sharma’s death and demanded a CBI inquiry. “Media is the 4th pillar of democracy and that is being crushed under BJP’s rule,” Guna member of parliament Jyotiraditya Scindia had said.