Journalist killed reporting on violence in India farmer protests ‘risked his life for £5’

Indian freelance journalist Raman Kashyap was killed in violence during farmers’ protest in Uttar Pradesh

Sravasti Dasgupta
Wednesday 06 October 2021 13:54
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<p>India Farmer Protests</p>

India Farmer Protests

Slain Indian freelance journalist Raman Kashyap’s family has said that he lost his life trying to earn a meagre Rs 500 (£ 5), his usual payment for each project that made it to TV.

Kashyap was one of the eight killed in Sunday’s violence in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh when a central minister, Ajay Mishra’s son allegedly drove one of three cars that ploughed through a group of farmer protesters in Lakhimpur Kheri on Sunday. Four farmers were killed in the incident, while four others died in subsequent clashes.

Speaking to Indian publication ThePrint, Mr Kashyap’s father Ram Dulare said that his son had chosen journalism because “he wanted to make a difference in the world. He wanted to do some social work and felt reporting was a way of doing something for society,” he added.

Kashyap had been working for a local television channel for more than a year and went to cover the farmers protests against the visit of Deputy Chief Minister at an event organised by Mr Mishra.

Videos reportedly filmed at the site of the incident show an SUV mowing down a crowd of standing protesters, besides bloody visuals of the injured.

Kashyap’s father told local media that it appeared this son had lost his life trying to do his job. “When the three-four cars came…he may have been shooting some photos…the cars ran over people. My son died in that,” he said to The Hindu.

India’s farmers have been protesting for over a year against three new agricultural laws.

The central minister, a cabinet colleague of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has refuted allegations that his son Ashish’s motorcade ploughed through the farmers’ protest and has blamed the farmers for the death of BJP workers and a driver.

Mr Mishra had earlier included Kashyap while counting the killed BJP workers. Kashyap’s family has lodged a complaint with the police stating that his son was a journalist who was covering the protest, reported Times of India.

Editor’s Guild of India has demanded a court-monitored special probe into the circumstances that led to Kashyap’s death.

Farm leaders have given the Uttar Pradesh government a week to arrest Mr Mishra’s son Ashish, who was allegedly driving one of the three cars which ploughed through the group of farmer protesters. On Wednesday, farmer unions demanded Mr Mishra’s resignation.

The Uttar Pradesh government has ordered a judicial inquiry into Sunday’s violence and registered a police case on the basis of the farmers’ complaints.

Meanwhile, tensions continue to simmer in Lakhimpur Kheri, where the local administration has lifted prohibitory orders after three days and allowed political leaders to visit the area in groups of five on Wednesday.

Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, of the Congress party, along with his party colleagues Chief Ministers Charanjit Singh Channi and Bhupesh Baghel headed to Lakhimpur Kheri after a brief protest at Lucknow airport.

The opposition leaders claimed that the police wanted them to travel to Lakhimpur Kheri in police vehicles and not their own.

Prior to the easing of prohibitory orders, the police arrested Mr Gandhi’s sister Priyanka when she attempted to visit Lakhimpur Kheri on Monday. Ms Gandhi had dubbed the confinement “illegal detention”.

Mr Baghel had staged a sit-down protest on Tuesday after he too was stopped by the police on his way to Lakhimpuri Kheri.

With the easing of restrictions, delegations from other opposition parties, including the BSP, SP and AAP are also likely to visit the area.

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