The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, expressed her grave concern regarding the circumstances of the death of freelance journalist Hem Chandra Pandey, killed by gunfire in a clash in early July while reporting on the Maoist insurgency in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
“I am concerned about the circumstances in which Hem Chandra Pandey lost his life and I call on authorities to investigate thoroughly the conditions in which it took place,” said Ms Bokova. “I reiterate that press freedom is a fundamental human right. This implies that it can be exercised in complete safety, and the role of the police is to respect it.”
Hem Chandra Pandey, aged 30, wrote under the name Hernant Pandey and worked for several Hindi-language newspapers, according to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). Specialized in covering social issues, he had gone to Nagpur to interview a leader of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), Cherukuri Rajkumar, alias Azad, who was said to be attempting to negotiate a truce with the authorities, the IFJ reports.