Shahjahanpur-based freelance journalist, Jagendra Singh — who died from burn injuries at a Lucknow hospital on Monday — was a source of information for several local scribes. Many, reportedly, tuned in to his Facebook page, ‘Shahjahanpur Samachar’, looking for story cues.
Singh, who earlier worked for local Hindi dailies, found his Facebook wall a better medium to post stories. His stories revolved around local politics and routine incidents to crime.
But Singh didn’t start out as a journalist. His wife, Suman, says that after completing an ITI course, Singh worked for some private firms in Amroha and Rudrapur districts. He left the job after getting married in 1989 and returned to his native place, Khutar, to open a general merchant’s shop. It was in 2003, according to Suman, that he began working as a journalist. Singh later moved to Shahjahanpur city, while Suman stayed in Khutar with their two sons.
Suman even claims that Singh was unable to stay with one newspaper for a long period due to his short temper.
The local police, meanwhile, alleges that Singh also indulged in some “unlawful activities”, resulting in five criminal cases being filed against him. Police said four cases on charges of assault and criminal intimidation were registered against him between 2005 and 2007.
Khutar police station SHO Rajesh Kumar Singh, says, “As per locals, Jagendra Singh was a short-tempered man and used to pick fights on trivial issues.”
Singh’s son, Rajan, claims that the journalist had angered the minister for Backward Class Welfare in the Uttar Pradesh government, Ram Murti Singh Verma, with stories he posted on his Facebook account.
The dispute began with a story, posted on April 18, accusing a district supply officer, allegedly close to Verma, for issuing Above Poverty Line (APL) ration cards to 27,493 persons, despite a state government ban on issuing them.
The last case was registered against Singh on May 12. He was accused by another journalist, Amit Pratap Singh alias Amit Bhadauria — who also posted stories under the title ‘Shahjahanpur Samachar’ — of kidnapping him. Singh accused Bhadauria of acting on Verma’s orders. Ten days later, Singh’s facebook post alleged that he feared that the minister will try to eliminate him. On June 1, Singh landed at the hospital with serious burn injuries.
While police claimed that he self-immolated during a raid to arrest him, his son alleges that Singh was burnt alive by the minister, the then local SHO, and others.
Before he died:
April 18: Singh alleges corruption by official close to UP minister Ram Murti Singh Verma
April 28: His leg is broken as “5 men attack” him
May 7: Singh accuses officials of aiding minister in grabbing a farmer’s land
May 12: Singh booked for “kidnapping, firing at” another journalist
May 22: Singh on FB — Minister trying to kill me
May 28: Singh’s FB post accuses Verma of gangrape
June 1: Singh suffers serious burns at his house during a police raid