Three journalists were allegedly assaulted when they were they went to cover a clash between ruling BJP and opposition CPI-M workers at Khayerpur, about 10 km from capital Agartala. Three complaints have been filed so far but the culprits are yet to be arrested.
The journalists — Prangopal Acharya, Pintu Paul and Biswajit Debnath — were attacked on Sunday. “Three complaints were filed on the issue, including one from a journalist organisation. No journalist was injured in the incident but 4-5 others were wounded. We are investigating the matter,” said New Capital Complex Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Piya Madhuri Majumder.
In a statement issued Monday, the Assembly of Journalists (AoJ) — a media rights body — said the incident occurred on Sunday afternoon. “A group of journalists was assaulted by a group of 7-8 miscreants when they were covering the clash. In a complaint filed with Bodhjungnagar police station, the scribes informed that they were threatened with dire consequences and the miscreants tried to snatch their cameras,” AoJ general secretary Sanit Debroy said.
The Assembly of Journalists also claimed that the assault on scribes was not a random incident but “part of a continued attack on media in Tripura” since CM Biplab Kumar Deb’s controversial comments in September, where he said he would not “forgive” a section of media for “misleading COVID reporting”.
The organisation later met the Director General of Police and sought expedited investigation and action on the matter.
The Agartala Press Club has condemned the incident and demanded exemplary punishment for those involved in the assault. Press Club secretary Pranab Sarkar said they met the SDPO and were assured of proper action.
“Few of our party workers were attacked by the ruling party cadres. One of them has been shifted to Kolkata and two others are still in Agartala hospital,” said CPIM leader Pabitra Kar.
BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharjee said, “The incident happened in front of police. We demand the police to arrest the real culprits involved in the incident. We have already asked our activists to extend support in the police investigation”.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Biplab Deb said his government was committed to work for the welfare of everyone in Tripura, including journalists. While speaking at a conference of Forum for Development and Protection of Media Community, Deb said that media had the onus of performing its duties in spreading awareness among people of the society and the job had room for more expertise and acumenship.
The CM later said his government would cover working journalists of the state under Rs 5 lakh health insurance under the Ayushman Bharat scheme.
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