The Foundation for Media Professionals (FMP) urges the Chattisgarh government to take serious note of an attempt to commit suicide by Saurabh Agarwal, editor of Raipur-based Hindi newspaper “Dainik Syahi,” on 4 October.
In a shocking video he had reportedly shot a short while before consuming poison, Agarwal complained that he had been harassed by vested interests with allegedly trumped up cases that were in retaliation to his reports on corruption.
“Fake FIRs (first information reports) are being registered against me every 15 days. Do tell me what I should do? Is it wrong to publish the truth?” he pleaded in the video. “I have only one way out of this. To kill myself and my mother.”
The Foundation urges the state government to institute an impartial investigation into Agarwal’s allegations in the video against Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vijay Agarwal and his son Bharat Agarwal (Director, Bharat Benification & Power Pvt. Limited) as also some journalists and senior police officers who were allegedly responsible for the series of FIRs accusing him of blackmail and cheating.
While Saurabh Agarwal is in a critical condition, the Foundation is of the view that it is the responsibility of the government to ensure a safe working environment for journalists like him to report on transgressions by coal companies in the region.
Agarwal had been reporting on corruption in the mining of coal which is found in a large area in Raigarh district in Chhattisgarh, which shares a border with Odisha. Local adivasis and civil society groups have been opposing irresponsible mining which has resulted in environmental damage and mass displacement of local populations.
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, President
Raksha Kumar, Karnataka Convenor