Media rights group seeks CBI probe into Assam scribe’s killing


Guwahati : International media rights group Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) Tuesday called for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the killing of journalist Jagajit Saikia in Assam Saturday.

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“The security situation is very worrying in the northeast. It is unacceptable that journalists should be made to pay for refusing to relay propaganda for the different parties to a conflict. This latest murder must not go unpunished.

“We call on the authorities in New Delhi to order the Central Bureau of Investigation to carry out an exhaustive investigation to determine the motives and arrest those responsible,” RSF said in a statement.

Saikia, 30, was Saturday shot dead from close range outside his office in the western Assam town of Kokrajhar, about 250 km from here. He was the Kokrajhar district correspondent for mass circulation Assamese newspaper Amar Asom.

Motorcycle-borne gunmen had fired six bullets at Saikia in broad daylight. He was declared dead on arrival by doctors at a hospital in Kokrajhar.

Saikia is survived by his wife and a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter.

On Monday, police claimed to have zeroed in on the prime suspect, although the person identified as Sanswrang Basumatary is absconding.

“We raided two houses and recovered a large quantity of ammunition and other documents, including identity cards belonging to Basumatary,” said H.C. Das, an investigating officer.

Basumatary is said to have been a member of the now disbanded Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT).

Former leaders of the BLT now rule the Bodoland Territorial Council, a politico-administrative structure in the Bodo heartland of western Assam after an accord was reached between the BLT and the government.

“Investigations are on the right track,” Kokrajhar police chief Arabinda Kalita said.

Journalists across Assam have stepped up protests and demonstrations demanding security for working scribes and punishing the killers of Saikia.

Last week, unidentified assailants shot dead 22-year-old Konsam Rishikanta, a trainee sub-editor working for the Imphal Free Press, an English daily in Imphal, the capital of the adjoining state of Manipur.