New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) Condemnation poured in from all quarters over the dastardly murder of two journalists in Bihar and Jharkhand, with the entire journalist community, political leaders as well as the government strongly condemning the murders.
While the Press Club of India, the Indian Women's Press Corps and media organisations from different parts of the country termed the murders a "direct attack on the freedom of the press", BJP leaders used the Bihar murder to target Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over the state's law and order situation.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley tweeted his condemnation and sought an independent investigation to punish the guilty.
"I strongly condemn murder of journalists Rajdeo Ranjan in Siwan and Akhilesh Pratap Singh in Chatra district. Independent investigation may be instituted and guilty be punished," Jaitley posted on Twitter.
Rajdeo Ranjan, the Siwan bureau chief of Hindi newspaper Hindustan, which is part of the HT Media, was shot dead at a busy market near Station Road in the district on Friday night.
Four suspects have been detained in connection with his killing.
In the other incident, Indradeo Yadav, also known as Akhilesh Pratap, was gunned down in Jharkhand's Chatra district on Thursday night. He worked as a correspondent for a local TV channel.
BJP leaders attacked Nitish Kumar over the law and order situation in the state following the murder of the Siwan scribe and the killing of a teenager in Gaya and said that "maha jungle raj" has returned with the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) coming to power in the state.
"Before the Bihar election we were saying jungle raj will return to Bihar if the Mahagathbandhan comes to power, but we were wrong. Ab to maha jungle raj aa gaya hai (Now, there is maha jungle raj)," BJP spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain said.
Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore also condoled the deaths.
Press Club of India president Rahul Jalali in a statement said that both the murders "were targeted killings and form a part of attempts on part the mafia to muzzle the independent voice of the media".
"It is with increasing dismay we also note the increase in attempts to target the press throughout the country, by denigrating them and if nothing else works by eliminating them as has happened in these two cases," he said.
Nadeem Ahmad Kazmi, secretary general of the Press Club of India, demanded that the government, both at the centre and states, should come down heavily on the culprits and "also create an atmosphere conducive to the free and fair functioning of the media in the country".
The Indian Women's Press Corps urged the government to take immediate steps to find the culprits behind the crime and bring them to justice.
It said the "deliberate targeting" of the two journalists "is clearly an attempt to prevent the functioning of a free and independent media in the country".
It also said "the IWPC also views with deep concern the efforts to smear the reputation of media professionals in many parts of the country".
The Guwahati-based Journalists' Forum Assam (JFA) expressed shock over the murders of the two journalists.
Tripura Working Journalists Association (TWJA) and Tripura Journalists Union (TJU) also urged the authorities in Bihar and Jharkhand to take stringent action against the killers.
BJP general secretary Bhupendra Yadav took to social media to attack Nitish.
"Forget common man, even police and press do not feel safe in Bihar. This says it all about lawlessness under Nitish government," he tweeted.
Union Minister Giriraj Singh tweeted, "Even tears of Gaya have not dried, the murder of a journalist in Siwan has made Bihar's blood curdle."