Journalist Refused to Withdraw Mining Case. His Burnt Body Was Found on Saturday

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Policemen at the location where the journalist was killed.

Balaghat, Madhya Pradesh:  For weeks, Madhya Pradesh journalist Sandeep Kothari had been hounded by three men who demanded that he withdraw the defamation notice he had sent to two of them. His burnt body was found on Saturday.

On Friday, when Mr Kothari was on his way to a village in Balaghat district on a friend's bike, the men allegedly followed him in a car. They allegedly hit the bike to stop it and took Mr Kothari away after thrashing his friend.

The friend went to the police, after which two of the men were arrested.

Police sources claim Vishal Dandi and Brijesh Duharwal confessed that they choked the journalist to death inside their car, burnt his body and dumped it on railway tracks around 50 km away in Wardha in neighbouring Maharashtra. They reportedly led the police to the spot where the body was found.

A third attacker, Rakesh Narswani is missing.

All three were allegedly involved in illegal mining activities and chit fund companies.

"They are related to manganese mafia... My brother was a good journalist. He exposed many of their corrupt practices. I suspect more people were involved and hired these three to kill him," said Naveen Kothari, the brother of Sandeep Kothari.

He alleged that the men had also filed a false case against the journalist.

The 40-year-old journalist ran his own newspaper in Katangi. He had written many articles about illegal mining, land mafia and chit fund companies and had apparently made some enemies.

The police has formed a Special Investigation Team or SIT to further investigate the case. The journalist's family had earlier demanded a CBI probe.

Earlier this month, a journalist, Jagender Singh, was allegedly set on fire by policemen during a raid at his house in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh. He died a week later, on June 8.

Senior leaders of the opposition Congress in Madhya Pradesh have demanded an investigation into the journalist's killing.

"Journalist Burnt to Death Allegedly by Mining Mafia in M P Sand Mafia is flourishing in MP under State patronage," tweeted Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on Monday morning.

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