The head of a UN agency mandated to defend freedom of expression has called on Indian authorities to investigate the mysterious death of TV reporter Akshay Singh while covering the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh, saying crimes against journalists must not go unpunished.
Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Irina Bokova expressed condolences to Singh’s family, friends and colleagues and urged the authorities to investigate his death.
“It is essential for rule of law and for society’s right to be kept informed, that the authorities do all they can to clarify the cause of Singh’s death. Reporters must be able to carry out their professional duties in a safe environment and crimes against them must not go unpunished,” Bokova said.
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Singh, 38, an investigative journalist with a private Hindi news channel, was investigating the Vyapam scandal in Madhya Pradesh when he died mysteriously earlier this month. Doubts have been raised over the circumstances in which he died.
The Vyapam scam, simmering for nearly a decade, exploded before the country’s public after Singh’s death. With more than two dozen people connected in some way with the scam mysteriously dying, the Supreme Court has ordered that the corruption scandal be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The Vyapam scam is an admission and recruitment scandal allegedly involving politicians and senior officials in Madhya Pradesh. The scam involves students who paid bribes to officials to get high marks in entrance tests to get government jobs and coveted slots in medical schools.