The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has agreed to take over investigations into the killings of two journalists in Tripura last year, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb has said.
Santanu Bhowmik, who worked for a local television channel, was killed when he went to cover a road blockade agitation in the Mandwai area of West Tripura district on September 21 last year.
Another journalist, Sudip Dutta Bhowmik, a crime reporter with a vernacular newspaper, was killed inside the headquarters of the Tripura State Rifles’ (TSR) 2nd battalion at RK Nagar in the same district on November 20 last year.
The trial in the Sudip Dutta Bhowmik case in the Additional District and Sessions Judge Court was stopped following orders from the Tripura High Court. The state police’s Special Investigating Team (SIT) had probed the killing and filed a charge sheet. It also investigated the Santanu Bhowmik case, but hasn’t filed a charge sheet yet.
The CBI has decided to take over the investigations into the cases, Biplab Kumar Deb said. Deb told reporters late night on Friday, that the state cabinet had sent separate proposals to the Centre to probe the two cases to ensure justice to the affected families. “Today, we feel relieved as the CBI is going to investigate both the cases. With this, the BJP-IPFT government has fulfilled yet another promise made in the party’s vision document,” he said.
CBI sleuths would investigate the cases to ensure justice to the two families. The government had taken positive steps so that the media could work with full freedom in Tripura, he said. Deb said the government had already taken steps for a steep hike in pension for accredited journalists — from Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000 — and providing financial assistance to the ailing scribes.
Law Minister Ratan Lal Nath said democracy turns fragile “when the media is not free to perform its duty”.
“As the BJP’s state unit president, Biplab Kumar Deb had promised a CBI probe into the two cases if the party was voted to power. Today, the promise has been fulfilled,” he added.
The Agartala Press Club and other journalists’ bodies, which had staged protests in the capital town demanding a CBI probe into the killings, have welcomed the decision.