When The Silence Following Three Journalists’ Deaths Speaks Louder Than Words
Navin Nischal, Vijay Singhand, and Sandeep Sharma were three journalists who were violently struck by vehicles and killed all in the span of 24 hours. Their families claim the deaths to be premeditated murders. Captured in a video recording, the scene of the large truck fatally running over Sharma’s motorcycle was shared throughout the country’s online media.
Having received several death threats, journalist Sandeep Sharma was seemingly well aware of the potential safety risks but still kept his investigations ongoing. When Sharma requested protection, he was not only allegedly rejected by the local police, but also had his recorded evidence of his current sting permanently confiscated by the authorities.
“He was denied police protection and the police asked for the camera he had used to conduct the sting,” said Rizwan Ahmad Siddiqui, head of the local news channel at which Sharma worked. “They took the original recording and never gave it back,” he added.
Only a few days prior, Sharma had reportedly caught video evidence of a high-ranked police officer accepting a bribe of 25,000 rupees (approximately 272 US dollars) in exchange for silence on a matter directly connected to the Indian sand mafia. The officer in question had supposedly agreed to turn a blind eye and allow the illegal process of sand mining in a crocodile sanctuary.
Sand is a fundamental ingredient in construction materials and, in the context of India’s progressive urbanization, is said to be equivalent to gold. Because of sand’s daily rises in value, methods of mass sand acquisition can be somewhat questionable, with evidence linking them to criminal actions and corruption.
Since 2000, sand demand has tripled, resulting in construction companies having to resort to extracting from external regions, a source of much distraught due to its damaging environment impacts.
In light of the recent violence, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) labelled India as being among the top most dangerous locations for journalists worldwide, due to journalists’ lives being threatened on a daily basis. As many as 27 reporters have been killed, according to official reports, in connection to their ongoing investigations in the past 11 years in India. Moreover, the CPJ especially highlights the danger for international journalists working in India, which is discrediting not only to India’s local judgement but also its international reputation.
The deaths of the three journalists, who were allegedly investigating the illegal trafficking of sand in the construction department, made clear India’s fear of press exposure. Employing violence to impede truth’s surface to the public is an ironic situation in which silence speaks louder than words.