Assam editor’s death takes toll to 22

Mazumdar (40) was gunned down in front of his Rajgarh Road residence as he was returning from office at Ulubari around 10.30 pm.
SAMUDRA GUPTA KASHYAP profiles the latest media victim in Assam. Reprinted from the Indian Express.

Guwahati: When Anil Mazumdar, a local correspondent of largest-selling Assamese newspaper Asomiya Pratidin from Ghograpar in Nalbari district, shifted to the state capital to relaunch his career 13 years ago, he had big dreams of one day setting up his own daily.


He did become the owner of a newspaper when he took over Aaji, another Guwahati-based paper in 2006, but even as he was trying to bring it to a break-even point, Mazumdar fell to the bullets of unidentified assailants here late on Tuesday.


Mazumdar (40) was gunned down in front of his Rajgarh Road residence as he was returning from office at Ulubari around 10.30 pm. Unidentified assailants pumped as many as seven bullets in his chest and escaped. He was later declared dead on arrival at a private hospital.


Mazumdar is not the first journalist in Assam to have fallen to bullets. Parag Kumar Das, executive editor of Asomiya Pratidin was gunned down in the heart of Guwahati on May 16, 1996. His killers are yet to be brought to book even after a long-drawn CBI probe. While Mazumdar is the second editor to have been killed in Guwahati, altogether 22 journalists have been killed in Assam since 1987, when Punarmal Agarwal, a correspondent of The Assam Tribune was killed in Kampur (Nagaon).


"Mazumdar’s gruesome murder in the heart of Guwahati last night once again proved how insecure and vulnerable journalists are in Assam," said Prakash Mahanta, convenor of Journalists Action Committee, Assam. "As many as seven journalists have been killed during the Tarun Gogoi regime. And three have been killed in the past four months," he added.


"I saw him work hard to have a newspaper of his own, and though he started a weekly called Janamat in 2002, he later had to close it down when he was arrested on charges of having links with the United Liberation Front of Assom in 2004," recalled Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, editor of Asomiya Pratidin.


In fact, it was Bhuyan’s daily Aaji (which he had launched when he had left Asomiya Pratidin in 1997) that Mazumdar bought in 2006 and became its executive editor himself, vesting the editorship with well-known linguist and scholar Madhuram Boro.




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