woman standing in front of fire

Image source: Kalinga TV

‘Price for reporting truth’: Journalist in hospital after being set on fire

3 men set a journalist and his friend on fire after the former reported on the corrupt local village gram pradhan and her son. Both have died.
Journalist Rakesh Nirbhik, who reported on the corrupt village gram pradhan and her son
Journalist Rakesh Nirbhik, who reported on the corrupt village gram pradhan and her sonImage source: Janjwar

Three men set a journalist and his friend on fire after the journalist released reports on the allegedly corrupt local village gram pradhan and her son. The journalist, who succumbed to injuries in a hospital, said that his death was the price for revealing the truth.

Rakesh Singh Nirbhik, the 37-year-old journalist, wrote for Rashtriya Swaroop, a Lucknow-based newspaper. Alongside him worked his 34-year-old friend Pintu Sahu. The journalist lived in a village in Balrampur, Uttar Pradesh. According to the journalist, he had been reporting about the alleged corruption by the local village gram pradhan, Sushila Devi, and her son, Keshvanand Mishra, alias Rinku. As per SHO of Kotwali Dehat police station, Ramashankar Singh, Devi and her son were involved in corruption regarding dealing with solar panel installations and road construction.

Corrupt village chief’s son, friends, set journalist and friend on fire

On November 27, Rinku Mishra, along with Akram Ali alias Abdul Qadir and Lalit Mishra, a friend of theirs doused Nirbhik and Sahu with sanitiser and set them on fire. Allegedly, prior to doing so, the three managed to get Nirbhik and Sahu drunk as well. They left after their heinous deed.

This came to light after some time as the journalist’s wife, Vibha, and two daughters were at a relative’s house. By then, Sahu already passed away. Nirbhik was rushed to a Lucknow hospital. He claimed that suffering in this manner and dying was what revealing the truth was worth. A few hours later, he too passed away. The journalist’s father, Munna Singh, demanded a probe. Vibha, the wife, stated she would set herself on fire if the police did not find the accused.

Accused try to cover up crime

Three days later, on November 30, police arrested the accused. Akram already faces criminal cases, including murder. Balrampur police chief, Dev Ranjan Verma, stated that the accused tried to make the crime look like an accident. However, loopholes in their stories made it clear that they lied.

In addition to Nirbhik’s reports, Sahu apparently also had a payment dispute with Rinku Mishra. Before the accused tried to kill them, Mishra and Sahu allegedly fought over it. The police said that the investigation is still ongoing and that they will question and arrest more people if need be.

In the meantime, Balrampur district administration’s legislator, Palturam, gave a Rs 5 lakh cheque to Vibha. The Balrampur Chini Mills also promised to offer her a job. The district administration will also sponsor the daughters’ education now.

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