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Dalit journalist dies of cancer, injustice by Employer TNIE Hyderabad

Flat no.29, New Central Market, Connaught Circus, New Delhi-110 001
Phone: 23413459, E-mail: [email protected][email protected]
New Delhi, April 16, 2015
DUJ mourns young and bright journalist: Nagaraju Koppula (May 25, 1980 – April 12, 2015)
We are shocked and we mourn the untimely passing away of the first Madiga Dalit journalist in English print media Nagaraju Koppula, 34, after a protracted fight against Cancer and condemn the injustice meted out to him by his employer. 
With a keen sense of social justice Nagaraju wrote on a variety of subjects, especially on the plight of the marginalised in society which made him a valuable asset for any media organisation and brought much needed plurality in the newsroom. 
Cancer was not the only battle he had to wage. Hailing from Sarapaka in Khammam district Andhra Pradesh, Nagaraju supported his mother (his father died when he was 4) by working as a construction labourer, sold ice and then painted sign boards in the ITC factory and elsewhere in Sarapaka before pursuing an MA in History at Hyderabad Central University and then journalism at IIJNM, Bangalore.
A scholarship with Tehelka School of Journalism brought him to Delhi and after an internship with The Hindu in Chennai he got a job with The New Indian Express in Hyderabad. He thought his struggles had ended but the general apathy which exists in society for Dalits extended to media houses as well, which he learnt the bitter way.
He struggled with English but his hard work paid off and most of his bylines would appear as front page anchors under him in the 2 years of service before he fell ill. Despite his dedication and hard work, TNIE did not give him appropriate raise at par with what the Savarna journalists were getting and when Nagaraju requested for it he was asked to take it or leave by G Vasu, Resident Editor and CEO, at TNIE Hyderabad. 
When Nagaraju was misdiagnosed by Chest & Lung Hospital Hyderabad with TB, TNIE did not give him sick leave and he had to go on a 5 month long unpaid leave. When TNIE got to know Nagaraju has terminal cancer, they quietly removed his name from the rolls without following due procedure or even intimating him. He was not given any medical insurance, or Provident Fund despite him visiting the HR in his decaying physical condition from time to time. 
We condemn this behaviour of the TNIE and demand that justice be done to Nagaraju, who was the sole earning member of his family.
We demand that TNIE pay compensation to his mother for pushing him to death, his salary backlog be paid and medical reimbursements made.
We demand that Dalit journalists, who are anyways so few in number, be protected against casteist behaviour of superiors in media organisations
. In the rare scenario that a Dalit journalist is able to enter the upper caste stranglehold of news organisations, let the managements be careful to not exploit or subject these journalists to any sort of discrimination at the work place. 

We express our deeply felt condolences and a stock taking meeting will be held on April at April 23, 2015 at Delhi Union of Journalists at 5.30pm .
In Solidarity, Delhi Union of Journalists and Friends of Nagaraju.
Sujata Madhok, President                                 
S.K.Pande, General Secretary

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