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India 1 September 2005

Knife attack on journalist over story about trafficking in women

Reporters Without Borders today condemned a knife attack by a group of men on reporter Shikha Das on 26 August 2005 in Pithora, in the district of Mahasamund (in Chhattisgarh state). Some of her assailants were alleged to be members of the regionally prominent Gardia family, which she had linked to trafficking in women in an article a few days before in the Hindi-language daily Jansatta.

"We call on the Mahasamund police to investigate this attack properly so that those responsible can be punished as soon as possible," the press freedom organisation said. "Das must also be given effective protection so that she can work freely. This attack is all the more worrying as few women work as journalists in Chhattisgarh."

In her report for Jansatta, Das alleged that Sanjay Gardia and his wife Monica Gardia were involved in a ring of traffickers in women being operated under the cover of a centre for impoverished persons.

When Das went to the Mahasamund police station to report the attack, the police initially refused to register her complaint. They did so only after a delegation of local journalists went to the police station.

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