Tamil television journalist probing shady real-estate deals and illegal sand mining hacked to death near Chennai

Published : November 09, 2020 18:52 IST

G. Moses the television journalist who was murdered near Chennai on November 8. Photo: By Special Arrangement

G. Moses (26), a reporter with the Tamil television channel Thamilan TV, was hacked to death near his house at Naduveeranpattu Pudhunallur village near Tambaram in Kancheepuram district, Tamil Nadu, on October 8. Moses had been exposing the shady deals of the land mafia and encroachers in the village and in its neighbourhood, which lie on the outskirts of Chennai city where real estate is a booming business.

When the reporter was chatting with his friends near his house at about 10 p.m. on November 8, three persons on a motor cycle armed with deadly weapons pounced on him and hacked him to death. On hearing his cries for help, Moses’ father Gnanaraj Yesudasan, also a reporter with an evening daily, rushed out of his house and saw his son lying in a pool of blood. He rushed him to the Chennai Chrompet Government Hospital where he was declared “brought dead”.

A preliminary police investigation revealed that Moses was going to meet someone who had called him over his mobile. He had just walked a few yards up the street when the gang struck. He ran back towards the house, but the gang members, all in their early twenties, caught hold of him and killed him before he could enter his house. When the neighbours started gathering at the crime scene, the killers fled on a motor cycle. The Somangalam police have registered a case in connection with the murder.

D. Shanmugapriya, District Superintendent t of Police, Kancheepuram, visited the scene of the crime. According to police sources, a few antisocial elements had encroached upon a parcel of poromboke land adjoining a tank near Moses’ house and had attempted to sell it. Protesting against this illegal act, a group of residents in the area reportedly demolished a few temporary structures erected on the tank bed a few days ago. The residents also reported the incident to the police, who warned the encroachers that the plot belonged to the government. The villagers claimed that the police did not initiate any legal action against the land grabbers since they had the backing of powerful politial elements.

The police believe the encroachers suspected that both Moses and his journalist father were behind the residents’ proactive role against the land grabbers. They also believe that both Moses and his father were the target of the attack, but his father had a lucky escape since he did not come outside the house at the time of the incident.

Gnanaraj Yesudasan told the media that his son had gone out to meet a person who called him over his mobile. He said: “I thought it should be [one of] his friends. But, suddenly, I heard some commotion and cries. I went out and saw my son writhing in pain and lying in a pool of blood with serious injuries. He suffered serious cuts in the head, the face and hands. In fact, a few days ago, one Navamani, a local thug who was involved in multiple crimes in the area, openly threatened my son. We informed about this incident to the police and sought their protection. They did not bother. I lost my only son now.”

Three persons surrendered before the Somangalam police accepting responsibility for the murder. The police arrested four more persons, including the person named Navamani, and further investigations are going on.

A group of journalists staged a protest near the Chrompet Hospital demanding protection to reporters and others media personnel. They also demanded a sum of Rs.50 lakh as compensation to the family of the deceased. They urged the government to pass a special legislation ensuring protection for working journalists from such attacks. They also demanded that an inquiry be held against the Somangalam police for not acting on the complaint of Moses and his father. “A high level inquiry should be held to probe the police’s links with undesirable elements,” one of the journalists said.

Rights activists urged the State government to provide protection for working journalists. Said a Chennai-based social activist: “We have witnessed the murders of social workers and journalists who were actively involved in exposing illicit sand miners, encroachers of water bodies and the land mafia. Reporters have faced constant threats and abuses. A few of them have been manhandled. But Moses’ murder was cold-blooded and gruesome,” said a Chennai-based social activist.

M.K. Stalin, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president, and M.H. Jawaharullah, leader, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, and other politicals leaders have condemned the murder.

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