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Published On: Mon, Mar 26th, 2018

Journalist probing police-sand mafia links run over by truck in MP

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  sandeep-sharma-journalist_650x400_61522072255BHOPAL : A local television channel stringer, who exposed illegal mining and had even sought police protection after getting threats in the wake of a sting operation against a senior police officer, was killed Monday after he was allegedly run over by a truck in Bhind, Madhya Pradesh. Sandeep Sharma, (36), a stringer for the Bhopal-based News World TV channel, was riding a two-wheeler when an empty truck knocked him down near the Kotwali Police Station around 9 am on Monday.

The driver managed to flee after abandoning the truck The video of the chilling incident, caught on a CCTV camera, shows the truck running over the journalist riding a motorcycle before fleeing. As per reports, journalist Sandeep Sharma had been reporting on the sand mafia and had even filed a complaint with the police about the threat to his life.
According to report the 35-year-old journalist had been investigating alleged links between the sand mafia and the police. Sharma, who was employed with a national news channel, had been allegedly threatened by a police officer after he did a ‘sting operation’ against him, the report said. In his story against the police officer, Sharma had alleged that the cop was hand in gloves with the sand mafia. The channel had even aired an audio conversation involving the officer after which he was transferred, the report said quoting sources.
Sharma was run over by the truck near the Kotwali police station at 8.55 am. The journalist died on the spot. He is survived by his wife and two children aged 14 and 15 years. Sharma’s brother, who served in the armed forces, had died fighting the terrorists in Kashmir on April 22, 2004.

Meanwhile, police have been accused of responding to the incident of crime late by around 15 to 20 minutes. District SP Prashant Khare has assured the local media of a thorough investigation into the matter. In fact, the police have already formed a special investigation team to probe the journalist’s murder. Bhind Press Club president Sathyanarayan Sharma, meanwhile, said that the death was highly suspicious.
The news came even as a local journalist died along with another person after an SUV rammed into their bike in Bhojpur district of Bihar. The journalist’s family has alleged that it was a case of murder and a former village head was behind it.

Naveen and his friend Vijay Singh were riding a motorcycle last night when they were crushed to death by the SUV near Nahsi village. Irate villagers intercepted the vehicle, but its occupants fled. The mob set the SUV on fire, said Avakash Kumar, Superintendent of Police, Bhojpur. Rajesh, brother of Naveen Nishchal who worked for a Hindi daily, had alleged in the FIR that it was a case of murder and a former Panchayat Mukhiya Ahmed Ali alias Harsu and his son Dabloo were behind it, the SP said. The SUV belongs to Harsu.
Police have registered a case under Section 304-A (causing death by negligence) and formed a special investigation team (SIT) after family members and local journalists alleged that Sharma was murdered because he had exposed the collusion between the sand mafia and police. Bhind SP Prashant Khare said more charges could be added depending on the outcome of the SIT’s probe. He also said the truck was owned by a man who deals in bricks.
A purported video of the incident showed the truck swerve towards the bike before knocking it down but the police said it was too early to determine if the accident was deliberate or if there was any foul play. Sandeep and Vikas Purohit, the local bureau chief of the channel, had conducted a sting operation against a sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) Indraveer Singh Bhadoriya which purportedly showed him asking for money to allow vehicles carrying illegally mined sand from the Chambal River to pass without checks.
According to his application for police protection, Sandeep and his family feared the SDPO could implicate the journalist in some criminal case or get him eliminated in a road accident.
The application demanded the SDPO’s immediate transfer outside the Chambal division and probe allegations against him. While seeking police protection, the application said the SDPO should be held responsible if something untoward happens to him. Asked about the sting operation, Purohit told  that he had waited outside the office when Sandeep, posing as a sand miner, struck a deal with Bhadoria.
The police officer asked Sandeep to give the money to a junior police officer, who the duo filmed pocketing the money. The channel ran the story without the SDPO’s version but included the version of Ater Congress MLA Hemant Katare.

After the channel ran the story around Diwali last year, Sandeep and his bureau chief sought police protection and alleged their lives were in danger and that they had received threatening phone calls. Bhind SP Khare acknowledged that Sandeep had expressed fears that he could be eliminated. However, no protection was provided to Sandeep,.
SDPO Bhadoriya could not be contacted for comment. No action was taken against the SDPO after the sting operation was telecast in July 2017, but he was transferred a couple of months later for acting in haste against the MLA Katare. He had filed a case against Katare, the son of former leader of the opposition Satyadev Katare, and a challan without seeking approval from his seniors. A local court had quashed the charges and criticised police for shoddy work.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said his government was committed to protecting journalists. “A probe has been ordered. Whoever is guilty will be punished,” he said. (With Agency Inputs ).

 

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