CJFE expresses horror over murder of Indian journalist Shivani Bhatnagar

Friday, January 29, 1999

CJFE expresses horror over murder of
Indian journalist Shivani Bhatnagar

His Excellency Atal Behari Vajpayee
Prime Minister of India
Office of the Prime Minister, South Block
New Delhi 110 011, India
Fax: +91 11 301 6857

29 January 1999

Your Excellency,

On behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), I am writing to condemn the heinous murder of Shivani Bhatnagar, special correspondent for "The Indian Express" in Delhi on 23 January. I am asking for your assistance in doing everything possible to bring her assailants to justice and to ensure that Indian journalists feel free to practise their profession in safety.

Bhatnagar's murder was appallingly brutal. The post-mortem report concluded that she died from strangulation, a result of having a length of wire wrapped around her throat. During the attack, she was also savagely stabbed her in the neck and abdomen with kitchen knives. Fortunately, her three-month-old son, Tanmay, who was home at the time of her murder, was unharmed.

The circumstances surrounding her death are curious. On the afternoon of 23 January, Bhatnagar telephoned her husband, Rakesh Bhatnagar, legal editor for the daily "Times of India," informing him of a wedding invitation two men had delivered. According to police, the men appeared to have been welcomed into the Bhatnagar's east Delhi apartment, as there was no sign of forced entry, and the drawing room table had been laid with snacks. While two rooms in the apartment were ransacked, police have dismissed robbery as a motive for the crime as nothing was taken.

It is believed, however, that Bhatnagar was in possession of certain incriminating documents related to her work as a special correspondent. Police are speculating that she was therefore killed by her assailants who were attempting to recover the documents.

We implore you to take a personal interest in ensuing that all is done to solve the murder of Shivani Bhatnagar, including employing the assistance of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Yours sincerely,
Wayne Sharpe
Executive Director

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