The 35-year-old Ghaziabad-based journalist Vikram Joshi, who worked with a local daily had lodged a complaint with the police against a group of men alleging harassment of his niece and scuffle with his brother on July 16 but shockingly no FIR was filed. Four days later on the night of 20th July, Joshi was cornered by the same group including two main accused Chhotu and Ravi, while returning along with his two daughters. He was brutally beaten up and was shot in the head with a close range. Joshi succumbed to his injuries and breathed his last on 22nd July. This unfortunate incident has left behind a trail of mind-boggling questions:
Did Joshi pay the price of the incompetency of the state in eradicating crime?
Was the invisible alliance between the goons and the police, real culprit of Joshi?
When Joshi had alleged harassment of his niece by the same men why wasn’t any FIR lodged?
Are the law and order arrangements up to the mark in the National Capital Region?
Did Police negligence and inadequate action take Joshi’s life?
When will women cease being subjected to harassment and will be given the safety and swift assistance as promised?
Why weren’t the accused arrested before in spite of having loads of other complaints in their names?
Nine accused of the attack have been arrested and one man is still on run. Two policemen have been suspended. “Nine people have been arrested including two main accused – Ravi and Chotu. A weapon was also seized from their possession,” Kalanidhi Naithani, Senior Superintendent of Police, Ghaziabad, was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has announced, that the family of the deceased will get an ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh and a job. Will any amount be able to bring back the lost life or compensate for the incompetence of police?
The shooting was also captured on a nearby CCTV camera, in which one of his daughters was seen shouting for help as the attackers fled the spot soon after. The footage has been doing rounds on the internet and speaks volumes about the audacity of goons in their safe haven, Uttar Pradesh.
Killings of journalists have seen an unprecedented rise in recent times, especially in Uttar Pradesh. Many media outfits and Journalists condemned the incident.
“We demand that all the culprits in this case as well as in previous cases must be brought to book by launching a ‘special operation’ by the state government,” the Press Association and the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) said in a joint statement.
“Women, cops, journalists, random citizens. Is anyone safe in Uttar Pradesh anymore?” tweeted Rohini Singh, Investigative Journalist, The Wire.
UP journalist Vikram Joshi who was shot at in Ghaziabad after he complained against those who were harassing his niece has passed away this morning. RIP. The rampant use of guns in UP remains a major concern: ‘wild west UP’, tweeted Senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai.
Journalist Sagarika Ghose tweeted “Will first molest a girl with impunity, and then kill with impunity, with no fear whatsoever of the law. And this is not in the remote “badlands” but in Ghaziabad, on the outskirts of the national capital. #VikramJoshi”
UP Government had to face sharp criticism from the opposition for the increase in crime in the state.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today tweeted: “Vikram Joshi was killed because he protested against his niece’s harassment. Condolences to the bereaved family. They promised Ram Rajya and delivered Goondaraj.”
“Across the state of Uttar Pradesh, the way killings, crimes against women are on a rise, it makes it clear that that the law of jungle is prevailing in the state. More than coronavirus, people have become vulnerable as the virus of crime spreads. The government should pay heed,” tweeted BSP Chief Mayawati.
“My heartfelt condolences to the family of Vikram Joshi, a fearless journalist who passed away today. He was shot in UP for filing an FIR to book his niece’s molesters. An atmosphere of fear has been created in the country. Voices being muzzled. Media not spared. Shocking (sic),” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted.
“After raising his voice against the sexual harassment of her niece, journalist Vikram Joshi Ji was shot in front of his daughter. Today, he died due to his injuries. The Jungle Raj (the law of jungle) in UP has increased to a point where the common people fear the goons after making complaints against them. The BJP government, like its predecessors, has failed to ensure law and order in the state” Priyanka Gandhi tweeted criticizing Yogi Government.
The heart-wrenching incident has left Joshi’s family in shambles. Whether it be Rana Ayyub receiving rape and death threats for speaking up on Kashmir or Gauri Lankesh or Vikram Joshi, Journalists facing the wrath of goons and miscreants has become a new normal in the country and needs a rigorous check.