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RSF Demands Probe into the Murder of a Sindhi Reporter Who Was Denied Police Protection Despite Request

The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called for an impartial investigation into the last week murder of Ali Sher Rajpar – a journalist from Sindh, who was well known for his investigative coverage of local municipal corruption and had just requested police protection.

Rajpar – a reporter for the Awami Awaz press group (which publishes the leading regional Sindhi-language daily) and president of the local press club in Padidan, Naushahro Feroze district – was slain in a chilling fashion on the evening of May 4, when he was shot five times at close range just after locking the press club gate.

The statement issued by the RSF says the FIR filed by his brother with the local police the next day names Padidan Town Committee Chairman Shakeel Ahmed Rajpar as the leading suspect. “In several of his recent stories, Ali Sher Rajpar had linked this official to local corruption and had repeatedly been threatened by him,” it added.

The Padidan press club members confirmed to RSF that Rajpar felt threatened in connection with his work and had unsuccessfully requested protection from the Naushahro Feroze district police just three days before being murdered.

“It is unacceptable that a journalist has been murdered after clearly informing the authorities of the threats being made against him,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.

“There are many suspicions surrounding this shocking murder and the possibility of complicity in more than one quarter cannot be ruled out. We therefore urge the highest Sindh province authorities to order a completely independent investigation so that nothing is left unclarified”

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The RSF also says, “The newspaper Dawn has quoted unidentified local police sources as saying that the police arrested the reporter’s cousin, Habeeb Rajpar, the next day and were blaming the murder on a family quarrel.”

It also mentions the assassination of another media person, saying Rajpar was murdered just four days after another journalist, Malik Amanullah Khan, the president of the local press club in the Paroa arena of Dera Ismail Khan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was fatally shot four times on 30 April 30. “The police have not yet made any arrest,” it regretted.

“After falling three places, Pakistan is ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index that RSF published last month, voicing concern about the ‘cycle of fear’ that has taken hold in many countries,” reads the statement.

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