Agencies: A TV news channel reporter died after he was seriously injured in an attack by Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) activists while he was returning home after covering a political clash in West Tripura district on Wednesday, police said. For many years, IPFT has been fighting for a separate state for indigenous Tripuris, which the ruling Left Front has always opposed.
Shantanu Bhowmik (27), who worked for pro-Left Deen Raat TV, had gone to tribal-dominated Mandwai in West Tripura to cover a clash between IPFT and CPM supporters. “Bhowmik was attacked between Mandwai and Jirania, which is about 30 km from Agartala,” police said.
Locals said IPFT supporters called Bhowmik a “CPM activist working against their party” while they assaulted him and his camera person who managed to escape and report the incident to police at Jirania. CPM workers took Bhowmik to Agartala Government Medical College and Hospital, where he died. Bhowmik was reportedly hit with sharp-edged weapons. Bhowmik and his camera person reportedly had footage of IPFT supporters attacking the CPM office at Mandwai.
Pranab Sarkar, secretary of the Tripura Journalists’ Union, said, “Bhowmik was assaulted in front of police personnel, who remained mute spectators.” Later, media personnel blocked a road leading to chief minister Manik Sarkar’s official residence and sat on a dharna, demanding action against all people, including abettors, who killed Bhowmik before his last rites.
Groups of people protesting against Bhowmik’s killing gheraoed the district magistrate and the superintendent of police of West Tripura and set afire police vehicles at Khumlung. Seven police personnel were injured. DGP (Tripura) AK Shukla, who visited the place where the journalists were protesting, said, “We will take appropriate action against the guilty as well as police personnel.” He asked the journalists to give him some time and end the road blockade. Till evening, the protesters, however, were seen blocking the road.
Governor Tathagata Roy said, “I will take up the matter with the highest authority.” As news of Bhowmik’s killing spread, tension gripped Jirania, which has a mixed population.