The IPI global network calls on authorities to conduct a thorough and fact-based investigation into the killing of  journalist Subhash Kumar Mahto in the village of Sakho in the Begusarai district of India on May 20. Authorities must determine the motive for this murder and prosecute those responsible.

Mahto was shot in the head from close range by four assailants while walking near his home after attending a wedding dinner with his father and other relatives, according to reports. The assailants fled the scene. He was taken to a local medical facility where he was declared dead. 

Mahto had been working as a journalist for four years. He was affiliated with local cable channel City News and video application Public App, where he shared his reports. 

Mahto’s colleagues believe he was killed in retaliation for his work. He had reported on local mafias in the area, according to The Wire. A representative of the Begusarai District Journalists Association also told The Wire that Mahto’s reporting was most likely the reason behind his killing.

According to reports, the police identified two suspects, who fled when authorities arrived at their residence to arrest them. Authorities then bulldozed the suspects’ residence, which caused outrage in the local community. The suspects remain at large. 

“While we welcome a swift investigation by authorities, we also urge police to conduct a careful and fact-based investigation into the killing of Subhash Kumar Mahto, taking care to respect the rule of law”, IPI Director of Advocacy Amy Brouillette said. “Police must determine the motive for this murder and then ensure that those responsible for this crime are brought to justice.” 

“The killing of Subhas Kumar Mahto in Begusarai once more spotlights the vulnerability of journalists in smaller towns and villages in India who work to expose land and liquor mafias – some of the most powerful forces at play”, Laxmi Murthy, co-founder of Mumbai-based non-profit Free Speech Collective, said. “The impunity with journalists being killed only emboldens those who seek to silence those who tell truth to power”, she added.