Updated: September 21, 2017 8:31:39 pm
At least four activists of the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) were arrested by police in connection with the murder of Tripura journalist who was beaten to death while on an assignment on Wednesday. 28-year-old Shantanu Bhowmik was on an assignment to cover clashes between the IPFT and the Tripura Rajaer Ganamukti Parishad (TRUGP) in Mandai, in West Tripura. Subsequently, Section 144 was imposed in two districts of Tripura on Thursday. Despite police resorting to lathicharge to disperse the crowds, Shantanu Bhowmik, 28, was reportedly killed and abducted by a mob.
On Wednesday night, hours after the incident, journalists staged a protest outside Chief Minister Manik Sarkar’s residence demanding the arrest of the perpetrators. The Tripura Journalists’ Union (TJU) is also demanding a CBI inquiry into the incident. Four members of the IPFT have been arrested by the Tripura Police in connection with the murder.
Tripura journalist murdered — highlights:
6:15 pm: Internet services were suspended across the state in the aftermath of the incident to prevent rumour mongering, the SP said.
6:00 pm: Avijit Saptarshi, Superintendent of Police (SP), Tripura West, said, “Sixteen police personnel were injured. Two vehicles were damaged by the IPFT activists at the Mandai and Khumulwung areas of the district.”
4:40 pm: Four activists of the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) were arrested in connection with the murder, the police said today.
4:20 pm: The Left party compared the killing of Tripura scribe with the recent murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru. They said the killing of Bhowmick shows “a clear pattern” emerging.
3:45 pm: The CPI(M) Politburo in a statement accused “BJP-backed IPFT (Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura) miscreants” for the killing of Santanu Bhowmick and demanded that the culprits be brought to book immediately.
3:30 pm: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) today condemned the killing of a journalist in Tripura saying it shows a clear pattern of “silencing” of progressive journalists.
2:00 pm: Journalist Shantanu Bhowmick’s last rites procession carried out in the state capital.
1.25 pm: Journalists will stage a protest at the Delhi Press Club at 4 pm on Friday, against the killing of Shantanu Bhowmik.
12.15 pm: According to Superintendent of Police of West district, Abhijit Saptarshi, the situation in Mandai was tense following the clashes. Last night, after imposing Section 144 in the region, additional police forces were rushed to the area. There were hundreds of activists injured in the clashes yesterday, reported PTI. 15 state buses were damaged as well.
12.04 pm: The war of words between political parties over the murder of journalist Shantanu Bhowmik comes months ahead of Tripura’s Assembly elections. Tripura, which goes to polls in early 2018, is currently ruled by the CPI (M). Manik Sarkar, who was recently announced as the party’s chief ministerial candidate yet again, has already served four consecutive terms.
12.02 pm: The party, through its official Twitter account, blamed the BJP for the murder. “CPI(M) strongly condemns this brutal murder! Murder of Journalist in Tripura by BJP backed IPFT Goons show BJP’s frustration in Tripura & overall pattern of silencing Journalists! Shame.”
In a Twitter rant, the CPI (M) continued, “Manik Sarkar run Left govt by its strenuous efforts brought peace, Unity & withdrawal of AFSPA to border State of Tripura. With assembly elections coming a concerted efforts being made by BJP & separatist IPFT to send Tripura back to those dark days of ’80’s.”
12.00 pm: Yesterday, CP(M)’s Sitaram Yechury had blamed the BJP for the death of the Tripura journalist. Taking to Twitter, he said, “This ghastly act is about BJP-RSS’ approach to journalists and silencing voices. How desperate it is in Tripura to resort to such tactics. RSS-BJP’s time-tested recipe of preparing for elections is through murder and violence. Tripura will not succumb to their intimidation.
11.54 am: The state government has ordered an inquiry into the murder of the Tripura journalist. “It has been reported, will have to inquire and if so will ask police to act properly,” state Information and Culture Minister Bhanu Lal Saha was quoted as saying by ANI.
11.44 am: On Wednesday, the state BJP unit had condemned the murder. On Twitter, the party had said, “Journalist Shantanu Bhowmick (27) murdered covering political clash in Tripura. Law and order nonexistent only violence under CPI(M) rule.”
11.28 am: Bhowmik’s death comes at the heels of the murders of Bengaluru-based journalist Gauri Lankesh and a Bihar journalist working for a local newspaper. According to research submitted by the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 27 scribes have been murdered for their work since 1992. India ranks 13th on the organisation’s latest Impunity Index, which ranks countries on the basis of how many journalists are killed in their line of work. Read more here.
11.19 am: Condemning the murder of the Tripura journalist, Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam minister, said today, “I highly condemn brutal killing of young Tripura TV journalist Shantanu Bhowmik. Sri Manik Sarkar’s CPI Maoist government has much to answer.”
11.12 am: According to a journalist from Agartala, “(Bhowmik) was first hit on his legs with a stick… when he fell down on the road, they hit him on his head. The mob later dragged his body and hid it behind the local stadium. It was gruesome.”
11.00 am: Today, the Agartala Press Club and the Tripura Working Journalists’ Association will stage a silent funeral procession for Bhowmik in Agartala. Bhowmik was killed at around 12.30 pm, but his body was recovered by police later from behind a local stadium.
10.55 am: A day after the clashes between IPFT and CPI(M)’s trible wing, the TRUGP, Section 144 has been imposed in two districts of the state. Mobile internet data services have been suspended in Agartala as well, reported news agency ANI.
(With inputs from agencies)
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