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Journalist and human rights activist Parag Kumar Das murdered

On 17 May 1996, journalist and human rights activist Parag Kumar Das was shot by unidentified gunmen in Guwahati, in the northeastern state of Assam. Das, the editor-in-chief of the daily "Asomiya Pratidin", was picking his son up from school when three men drove up in an automobile and opened fire. Das was shot at least eight times. His seven year-old son, Rohan Das, sustained an injury to his right hand, but is reportedly in stable condition. The gunmen fled the scene immediately after the shooting.

Das was also General Secretary of the Assamese human rights organisation Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS) and publisher of its monthly newsletter, "Voice of MASS", which documented human rights abuses by police forces in the strife-torn state. A proponent of self-rule for Assam, Das had recently published an interview in "Asomiya Pratidin" with the leader of the separatist group United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). Das's colleagues in Assam suspect that his assassination was carried out by a splinter group of the ULFA that allegedly has ties to the previous administration in Assam. State police had arrested Das twice, in March 1992 and February 1993, under the National Security Law and the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, which is no longer in force.

The laws, which allowed prolonged detention without trial, were apparently invoked against Das in connection with his human rights reporting and articles about the ULFA. In December 1993, police raided Das's office and home, seizing copies of a book he had written about Assam and manuscripts of articles he had published in "Boodhbar", the newspaper he was then editing.

Date posted: May 22, 1996Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 5698