Tripura Journo’s Death: Newspapers Run Blank Editorials in Protest

Journalist Sudip Datta Bhowmik’s murder has led to a furore in Tripura, raising concerns over the freedom of press

Updated
India
3 min read
Tripura Journalist Sudip Datta Bhowmik.
i

Barring Daily Desher Katha, the mouthpiece of the ruling CPI-M, all other newspapers in Tripura left their editorial columns blank on 23 November, protesting against the killing of journalist Sudip Datta Bhowmik.

Both BJP and Congress have called for a bandh in Tripura, protesting the killing of the scribe.

Amnesty International India issued a statement condemning the killing.

Sudip Dutta Bhowmick’s death, coming within two months of the murder of journalist Shantanu Bhowmick, raises serious concerns about the state of press freedom and security of journalists in Tripura. The police must investigate whether Sudip Bhowmick was killed for trying to expose corruption within the paramilitary force, as his editor has alleged. The Tripura state government must ensure that journalists are not targeted for simply doing their jobs.
  • A scene from the protest.

While the BJP called for a dawn-to-dusk bandh, demanding a CBI inquiry and resignation of Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, the Congress called a 24-hour bandh seeking an investigation by the CBI.

Shops and markets were closed and vehicles were off the roads in the state in view of the bandh.

Schools, colleges, banks and financial institutions remained closed and attendance was poor in government offices.

The police said adequate security measures have been taken and there has been no untoward incident till noon on 23 November.

The commandant of the 2nd battalion of the Tripura State Rifles (TSR) Tapan Debbarma was arrested on 22 November, in connection with the killing of Bhaumik. He was arrested inside the battalion headquarters in Agartala, and has been remanded in police custody for ten days by a local court.

Superintendent of Police (Police Control), Harkumar Debbarna said the commandant of the counter-insurgency paramilitary force was arrested for conspiring to kill the scribe.

TSR constable Nandalal Reang, who allegedly shot dead the journalist, was arrested on Wednesday, and sent to police custody for ten days.

Speaking to Indian Express, Abhijit Saptarshi, SP said:

(Sudip Datta Bhaumik) was shot by one Rifleman Nanda Reang inside the 2nd Bn Tripura State Rifles headquarters following some arguments. While a forensic team has visited the spot, postmortem examination of the deceased has been conducted on camera. 

Datta Bhaumick, a reporter of the local Bengali daily Syandan Patrika, was gunned down around 2 pm, on 21 November.

He was the second scribe to be killed in the north eastern state in two months.

His body was taken in a procession on Thursday by journalists and newspaper employees of the state after postmortem at the GB Hospital.

The body was taken to the Agartala Press Club and the office of Syandan Patrika. Editors, journalists and senior politicians like Tripura BJP president Biplab Deb, BJP MLA Sudip Barman and CPI(M) MP, Shankar Prasad Datta offered floral tribute to the slain scribe.

The Meghalaya Editors' and Publishers' Association (MEPA), and the Shillong Press Club condemned the murder of journalist Sudip Datta Bhowmik in Tripura.

In a statement, MEPA General Secretary Phillip Marwein demanded exemplary punishment to deter others, including law enforcers, to stop crimes against media persons, which he said occurred there at regular intervals.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condemned the killing.

MEPA also demands that the Tripura government ought to immediately extend ex-gratia payment to the bereaved family.

The Shillong Press Club demanded expeditious investigation and timely justice to the bereaved family.

"In a matter of two months, the journalist fraternity in the Northeast in general and Tripura in particular has lost two precious souls who have endeavoured to discharge their professional duties selflessly," a Club statement noted.

On 20 September, a television journalist, Santanu Bhowmik, 28, was killed allegedly by some activists of a party in Mandai, 35 km from Agartala.

(With inputs from IANS, PTI)

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