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New Delhi:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday took suo moto cognizance of an incident where a journalist was allegedly killed in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh by the sand mafia.

“Reportedly, the victim Shubham Tripathy was working as a correspondent with a Hindi daily. He had been reporting about illegal sand mining in the district and had received a threat to his life from the sand mafia. His opponents had also lodged a complaint against him with the District Magistrate,” the human rights body said in a statement.

After taking cognizance of the matter, the Commission issued a notice to the UP Chief Secretary and DGP, asking for a detailed report.

The state government has also been directed to get an impartial enquiry done into the matter by an independent agency, preferably the Crime Branch or the CID, and to ensure the safety of the family of the victim and the witnesses in the matter.

“The call details and other forensic evidence gathered during the inquiry should be preserved. The response is expected within four weeks,” the statement said.

The Commission has observed that the news report had mentioned that in many cases, media persons were targeted by the anti-social elements and in most of the cases, no action against the culprits was taken by the police authorities.

“In a democratic system, the media is considered as the fourth pillar of the government which cannot be allowed to be victimised by the anti-social elements in such a cruel manner,” the rights body said.

It is the duty of the state to provide adequate safety and security to the media persons who in the public interest keep taking great risks to highlight the illegal activities prevailing in the society, it added.

The death of Shubham Tripathy, in this case, is a matter of concern for the Commission and also an issue involving a violation of human rights, it said.

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