Agartala, Tripura: All newspapers in Tripura state left their editorial columns blank on Thursday as a mark of protest against the killing of a local journalist in police custody.
Clashes broke out in the bandh called on Thursday by Opposition BJP and Congress in Tripura in protest against the killing of a journalist inside the battalion headquarters of Tripura State Rifles (TSR).Eleven workers of rival parties (the BJP and CPM) were injured in the fray, police said.
As a mark of protest against the killing of Sudip Datta Bhaumick, a reporter of a Bengali daily Syandan Patrika, in Agartala on Tuesday, all newspapers barring Daily Desher Katha, the mouthpiece of the ruling CPM, left their editorial columns blank on Thursday.
Television channels also displayed a picture of the journalist every hour, said Pranab Sarkar, Secretary of Tripura Journalists Union.
Interestingly, the BJP called a dawn-to-dusk bandh demanding a CBI inquiry and resignation of Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, while the Congress called a 24-hour bandh for a CBI probe into the killing. (The BJP, it may be recalled, has been silent on journalists killed in states under their watch, while the CPM is vociferous in demanding that justice be done to journalists killed in other states, where they are not in the government.)
Shops and markets were closed and vehicles were off the roads in the state in view of the bandh.
Schools, colleges, banks and financial institutions remained closed and attendance was reportedly poor in government offices.
The killing of the 48-year-old journalist was condemned by media bodies with the Editors Guild of India demanding that the chief minister bring to book the culprits immediately. It comes just two months after a local television journalist was killed in Tripura.
The Press Council of India (PCI) also sought a report from the Tripura government on the killing.
Superintendent of police (police control), Harkumar Debbarma said of the 11 injured political workers, six were from the BJP and three from Congress and while two belonged to the ruling CPM.
He said seven were injured at Pratapgarh in clashes between the CPM supporters and those of BJP and Congress with CPM supporters.
Debbarma said another three were injured in a clash between CPM and BJP supporters at Boxanagar in Sipahijala district while one was injured at Kukicherra in South Tripura district.
A vehicle carrying a patient was damaged allegedly by BJP supporters at Nalua in South Tripura district, Debbarma said.
President of the state unit of BJP, Biplab Deb said though the party is against the politics of bandh this time they are helpless because two journalists have been killed in the state in the space of two months.
The ruling CPM opposed the bandhs saying the Opposition parties were politicising the killing of the journalists even though the state government had taken prompt action.
“The guild demands that Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar have the assailants swiftly brought to justice,” said a release by the Editors Guild of India.
“The guild also expresses its deep concern that Bhowmik’s killing is not an isolated incident in Tripura,” it added.
The guild said another incident within months is indicative of the seriousness of the threat to journalists in Tripura and the need for the state government to pay heed and take steps urgently to provide safety for journalists.
The Press Council of India(PCI) chairman taking suo-motu cognisance of the incident sought a report from the chief secretary, the home secretary, Director General of Police, Government of Tripura and Commandant of 2nd battalion of TSR.
A three-member special investigation team (SIT) headed by DIG, Southern Range, Arindam Nath was formed on Wednesday to .investigate the killing, the state government said in a statement