• Vanita Srivastava, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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  • Updated: Jul 18, 2015 16:02 IST

Akshay Singh of TV channel Aaj Tak died in Jhabua on Saturday afternoon. (Photo: India Today)

Indian authorities have been called on by the head of a UN agency mandated to defend freedom of expression to investigate the mysterious death of TV reporter Akshay Singh while covering the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh, saying crimes against journalists must not go unpunished.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova has called on the Indian authorities to investigate thoroughly the death of reporter Akshay Singh in Madhya Pradesh on  July 4.

“I express my condolences to Akshay Singh’s family, friends and colleagues and urge the authorities to investigate his death,” the Director-General said.

“It is essential for rule of law and for society’s right to be kept informed, that the authorities do all they can to clarify the cause of Singh’s death. Reporters must be able to carry out their professional duties in a safe environment and crimes against them must not go unpunished”,  Bokova concluded.

Akshay Singh, a  TV journalist for a private Hindi news channel was investigating corruption in the Vypam scam  in Madhya Pradesh when he died from what doctors in a local hospital said was a heart attack. Media reports have raised doubts about the cause of Singh’s death.

The Vyapam scam, simmering for nearly a decade, exploded before the Indian public after Singh’s death.

Akshay Singh was in Meghnagar in Jhabua district to talk to the family members of Vyapam  scam-accused Namrata Damor who too was found dead under mysterious circumstances.

With more than two dozen people connected in some way with the scam mysteriously dying, the Supreme Court has ordered that the corruption scandal be investigate by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The Vyapam scam is an admission and recruitment scandal allegedly involving politicians and senior officials in Madhya Pradesh.

The scam involves students who paid bribes to officials to get high marks in entrance tests to get government jobs and coveted slots in medical schools.

(With inputs from PTI)