Intro: Jagendra Singh, a local journalist who became popular with the social media through his strong comments about the corruption and criminality of Samajwadi Party leaders, was burnt to death.
Amidst widespread protests by media organisations, social activists, and opposition parties the real character of Samajwadi Party comes to the fore as its spokesperson Shivpal Yadav strongly defended the absconding Minister Ram Murti Verma. The State's Minister for Dairy Development and a leader of the ruling Samajwadi Party, who is an accused in the killing of Shahjahanpur-based journalist Jagendra Singh. Shivpal has declared that the minister will not be asked to vacate the post until the investigations are over. On the other hand, officer bearers of the Indian Federation of Working Journalists protested at Jantar Mantar against the Akhilesh Yadav Government in the state. They alleged the Samajwadi Party Government of not taking action against the accused minister. Journalist Jagendra Singh was allegedly set afire by State Minister Ram Murti Verma and five others on June 1 after which he died on June 8 during treatment.
Meanwhile, demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into killing of the journalist, BJP MP Yogi Adityanath has also stated that justice could not be meted to his family if the matter is probed by the state. “I demand a CBI probe into the matter as justice could not be meted to family members of the victim’s family if matter is probed by state agencies,” Adityanath told reporters on sidelines of a function here the other day. Attacking SP Government on law and order issue, Adityanath said that SP Ministers’ hooliganism is being reported every now and again. While State Minister Ram Murti Verma killed a journalist, another Minister Kailash Chaurasia had beaten a transport official, BJP MP said.
The State Government has suspended five policemen, but the top SP leadership has been defending the minister despite the fact that there is a video recording of the slain journalist where he holds the minister responsible for the attack. Singh’s family is on a hunger strike demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the matter.
Jagendra Singh, a local journalist who became popular with the social media through his strong comments about the corruption and criminality of Samajwadi Party leaders, was burnt to death for his reports against the Uttar Pradesh Minister Ram Murti Verma. He used Facebook to report about issues nobody bothered about and pushed authorities to provide solutions. Before his death, Jagendra used to manage and post through two Facebook profiles – Jagendra Singh and Shahjahanpur Samachar – each of which has around 5,000 friends. He also sold his reports to 10 odd newspapers in Uttar Pradesh on a freelance basis.
Jagendra mostly wrote about Shahjahanpur and Bareilly districts and adjacent areas on Facebook. His posts talked about local crimes, civic issues, politicians and their activities, and examinations in local schools. They were often accompanied by photographs which he clicked himself.
Some of his posts were about Ram Murti Verma. In his posts, Jagendra had levelled allegations against Verma, including one that he and four of his men had raped an anganwadi worker and another that he had illegally amassed assets worth crores of rupees. Before succumbing to his injuries, Jagendra had accused Verma of ordering goons to kill him. Verma has already been charged with murder, along with 9 others, including 4 policemen.
Rahul Singh, Jagendra's son, says that after getting acquainted with Facebook, his father always toyed with the idea of using the platform for society's benefits and spreading awareness. “Papa used to say that in a newspaper you get the news only the next day but on the internet its real time and thus the impact can be far-reaching,” said Rahul. Others also say that Jagendra's popularity increased on Facebook, and authorities and MLAs too befriended him on the platform. Many a times, after Jagendra reported something, authorities got the clue about issues from his post and then took action. Mainstream newspapers often avoided publishing some of his reports owing to political pressure. But Jagendra had always been free to publish what he felt was right, without caring for repercussions. He used to say he was more concerned with serving the people and delivering fearless news.
—Dr Shakti Kumar Pandey from Lucknow