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Sudarshan TV journalist ‘kidnapped, murdered’ in Bihar ‘went out with friends, never returned’

While police say it's too early to ascertain the motive behind the alleged murder of Sudarshan TV journalist Manish Singh, the victim's father has alleged he was targeted for his journalism work.

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New Delhi: Two days after the body of Sudarshan News television journalist Manish Kumar Singh was recovered on 10 August from a lake in Bihar’s Mathlohiyar village in East Champaran district, police officers investigating the case told ThePrint that the 26-year-old was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by people known to him.

Manish Singh went missing on 7 August, and a missing complaint was filed by his family the following day. He is survived by his parents and a younger sister.

East Champaran SP Naveen Chandra Jha said an FIR had been filed on 8 August, based on the missing complaint lodged by the victim’s father. The charges were changed to murder after Manish’s body was recovered on 10 August. The FIR named nine suspects, two of whom have been arrested, Jha said.

He said the two were Amarendra Kumar and Mohammed Arshad Alam – both journalists. Another person, Mahendra Singh, whose profession is not known, was not mentioned in the complaint, but was arrested in the course of investigations. All three have been charged with kidnapping and murder.

“The complaint filed by the deceased’s father Sanjay Singh mentions the name of two of the arrested, Alam and Amarendra. Mahendra was arrested in course of investigations,” SP Jha told ThePrint.

Police sources have claimed that the arrested accused were known to Manish for the last five-six years

Jha added that the investigation was on and it was too early to reach any conclusion about a motive.

“The motive will be known after the post-mortem is completed. It is taking time because the body had been in water for so long that it had started decomposing.”

Police sources, meanwhile, said they suspect a personal enmity/dispute behind the case, but were yet to ascertain the chronology of the alleged crime.

But Manish’s friends and family allege he was targeted by people against whom he wrote.

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‘Went for a meal, but was killed’

The victim’s father Sanjay Singh, a resident of Kotwa panchayat and the editor-in-chief of local newspaper Areraj Darshan, claimed his son’s murder “was a conspiracy hatched by those that my son and I wrote against as journalists”.

“My son and I both wrote against jihadi dushmans and corruption. So, we would often receive threat calls,” he claimed.

The three arrests were made based on his complaint and CCTV footage from Mathlohiyar village, where Manish was last seen with Amarendra and Arshad, said a senior police officer investing the case.

The officer added that both the CCTV footage and investigations had revealed that Manish was with the accused till 8 pm.

According to Sanjay, his son had received a call from Amarendra on 7 August and had left to have a meal with him “around noon”. Manish never returned, he claimed.

“We let him go thinking they know each other, so nothing wrong will happen. When we called him (Manish) around 8 pm, however, his phone was switched off. That’s when we got alarmed.”

Sanjay said the family next called Amarendra to ask him about Manish’s whereabouts. “He said he had met him at 2 pm. When we called him again the next morning, he didn’t answer the phone at all,” Sanjay alleged.

It was then that the family decided to file a missing complaint, he said.

On the morning of 8 August, neighbours who had joined the search for Manish told Sanjay that “his motorcycle was found in the Mathlohiyar area”.

“They trapped him, kidnapped him and killed him,” Sanjay alleged.

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Allegations of delay

Manish’s friends and family have alleged a delay in investigations by the police, a claim that has been refuted by the officers investigating the crime.

“Sudarshan’s reporter Manish Kumar was murdered. Mohammad Arsad Alam was arrested. The kidnapping took place three days ago. Even after giving a complaint about the possibility of murder, Bihar Police did nothing and kept waiting passively for the murder. We demand justice,” Suresh Chavhanke, CMD, Sudarshan News had tweeted on 11 August.

One of Manish’s colleagues, who didn’t wish to be named, also blamed the police for delayed action.

The allegation is repeated by Sanjay who also blamed the police for “negligence”.

“We told the police on 8 August that we feared for his (Manish’s) life and informed them that he had gone to meet Amarendra, but no immediate action was taken.”

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

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