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UN urges inquiry into death of Indian journalist

Last Updated: Friday, July 16, 2010 - 12:08

United Nations: Indian authorities need
to look into the death of journalist Hem Chandra Pandey who
was killed early this month in an encounter with police in
Andhra Pradesh, a top UN official said.

"I am concerned about the circumstances in which Hem
Chandra Pandey was killed and I urge the authorities to shed
full light on the conditions under which it occurred," said
Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Pandey, 30, who worked for several Hindi-language
newspapers, was killed along with Maoist leader Cherukuri
Rajkumar alias Azad on July 2.

UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a
mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom.

Pandey`s wife Babita told journalists on July 4 that
her husband had left for Nagpur on June 30 on assignment and
been unavailable on his mobile phone since then.

Shortly after the incident was reported, the
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expressed shock
and also called for an inquiry.

"Hem Chandra Pandey, like any journalist, was well
within his rights in seeking to interview an insurgent leader,
especially in the context of ongoing peace moves," IFJ
Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said last week.

"The IFJ extends its solidarity to Babita Pandey and
the family of the killed journalist, and welcomes the Andhra
Pradesh Home Minister`s announcement of a full inquiry," she

Babita has stated that the incident was a fake
encounter and has asked for a probe by the Central government
because she does not trust the state authorities to be honest.

Human rights groups in India and civil liberty
activists have called for a central investigation.

Noting that Pandey was a contributor to leading
Hindi-language dailies such as Nai Duniya, Rashtriya Sahara
and Dainik Jagaran, IFG said, "a portfolio of his recent
writings shows a well-informed engagement with issues of wide
social concern, such as inflation, food security and climate
change. Nowhere does it reveal an advocacy of violence."


First Published: Friday, July 16, 2010 - 12:08
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