Nearly 6,000 copies of vernacular newspaper ‘Pratibadi Kalam’, dispatched for three districts in Tripura, were snatched and destroyed from passenger buses at Udaipur in Gomati district on Saturday morning.
Director General in-charge of Tripura Police, Rajiv Singh, told indianexpress.com that a complaint was registered at Radhakishorepor police station and a probe is on to identify those responsible.
Pratibadi Kalam editor Anol Roy Chowdhury said he suspects the assault was due to a series of reports on an alleged Rs 150-crore agriculture scam the newspaper had published over the last three days. “We published a series of reports in which Agriculture Minister Pranajit Singha Roy’s name came up among others,” he told indianexpress.com.
“Around 6,000 copies of the newspaper were snatched at Udaipur. Half of them were burnt while the others were torn and thrown away,” he added.
In his complaint, Choudhury has named 11 persons led by one Raju Majumder and alleged they were responsible for ‘forcefully unloading’ bundles of newspapers from a bus plying on the Agartala-Sabroom route, then tearing and burning the copies on the road. He said other buses carrying similar packets were stopped in other locations too on Saturday morning.
DGP Singh said: “We are investigating. Everyone should rest assured that we shall identify the persons involved and take necessary action.” Though surprised at how no one was identified till now, Choudhury thanked Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb for assuring action on the issue.
Agartala Press Club’s outgoing secretary Pranab Sarkar, outgoing president Subal Kumar Dey and others met DIG Soumitra Dhar at the state police headquarters and demanded strict action on the issue. The press club is scheduled to undergo election on Sunday.
Senior journalist Jayanta Debnath condemned the incident and said Assembly of Journalists, a forum for protection of media freedom, has given the police 24 hours to nab the culprits, failing which they would organise sit-in-demonstration around the police headquarters.
Veteran journalist Jayanta Bhattacharya condemned the incident and termed it an infringement on rights of the media and said if the trend continues, it will be difficult for media organisations to reach the masses.
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