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Journalist shot at on lawless stretch of highway

Rohtas SP Satyaveer Singh inquires about the health of Bindhyachal Upadhyay on Thursday night. Picture by Sanjay Choudhary

Patna: A journalist with a vernacular daily is struggling for life at a private hospital in Rohtas after being shot at and critically injured by a gang of armed criminals late on Thursday night.

Bindhyachal Upadhyay (40), a resident of Bikramganj in Rohtas district, was returning home after attending a show of singer Mohammed Aziz at Sasaram, the district headquarters of Rohtas 148.3 km south-west of Patna, on his motorbike when the robbers, said to be five in number, tried to intercept his motorbike near Jigani bridge.

Another journalist, Chandan Kumar, was also riding on Bindhyachal's bike when the incident occurred around 10.15pm on the Sasaram-Bikramganj road.

"Bindhyachal, who was driving, didn't stop and tried to flee. Enraged over his action, one of the robbers opened fire, hitting Bindhyachal's left armpit. They fled the spot thinking that he (Bindhyachal) had died," Chandan told the police.

Chandan somehow managed to reach Bikramganj, around 20km away, and got the injured Bindhyachal admitted to a private hospital where he was operated upon. Dr Kamendra Kumar, who attended to Bindhyachal, said that his condition was stable.

"He has been admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital. Excess bleeding is a cause of concern. Next 48 hours will be very crucial for him. He is at present under observation of a team of doctors," Kamendra told The Telegraph over phone on Friday.

After being informed about the incident, Rohtas superintendent of police (SP) Satyaveer Singh visited the hospital around 1.30am and inquired about the health of the journalist.

The SP later told the scribe's family members that the culprits would be brought to book within 48 hours.

Local residents alleged that police inaction had led to a series of robberies on the Sasaram-Bikramganj road near Jigauli bridge in the past few months.

"The motive behind the incident was to rob the journalist of his cash and other valuables," Chandan said in the FIR lodged with the Sanjhauli police station in Rohtas district.

The SP has set up a special investigation team headed by Bikramganj sub-divisional police officer Raj Kumar to nab the offenders at the earliest.

"The cops are already on the job," Satyaveer told journalists on his return from the hospital.

On March 26 this year, journalist Naveen Kumar and his friend Vijay Singh were killed when they were returning to their village on the Ara-Sasaram state highway. On October 24, 2015, Mithilesh Pandey, scribe with another Hindi daily, was shot dead in Kastha village under Paraiya police station in Gaya district.

"There have been frequent attacks on journalists in Bihar," said Prem Kumar, a journalists' union leader. "The state should take a serious note of the incidents."

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