Tripura journalist's murder outrages media fraternity; opposition calls for bandh

The police have now arrested TSR commandant Tapan Debbarma and his personal guard Nanda Reang for the murder of journalist Sudip Datta Bhaumik.

Following the killing of scribe Sudip Datta Bhaumik at the Tripura State Rifles’ 2nd battalion headquarters, newspapers in Tripura published blank editorials in protest on Thursday, November 23. The journalist, who was on a reporting assignment, was allegedly shot dead by TSR jawan Nanda Reang.

On Tuesday, November 21, Bhaumik had arranged a meeting with TSR commandant Tapan Dabbarma at the headquarters in RK Nagar area of Agartala. According to his editor, Bhaumik was covering a story on “financial irregularities and corruption cases” which involved the TSR commandant. The police stated that the 52-year-old journalist had also written about Debbarma’s “extramarital affair”.

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Syandan Patrika editor Subal Kumar Dey told The Indian Express,

He was called by Tapan Debbarma, the 2nd TSR Commandant, and murdered in cold blood. Sudip’s only crime was that he had exposed a number of financial irregularities and corruption cases in which Debbarma was involved.

Sudip Datta Bhaumik, Tripura, Journalist

(Photo Courtesy: Express Archive/Abhishek Saha)

Reportedly, an argument had ensued between Debbarma and Bhaumik, following which, the latter was shot. It is now being said that Bhaumik was carrying a spy-cam during his meeting with Debbarma aside from recording on his phone. Dey has pushed to probe into why Debbarma snatched Bhaumik’s phone from him.

According to reports, during his interrogation, Reang had claimed that it was Debbarma who pulled the trigger and gunned down Bhaumik inside his office. The police have now arrested both Debbarma and Reang and sent them to 10 days police custody.

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Bhaumik’s killing comes mere two months after another journalist, Shantanu Bhaumik, was killed in the state while covering clashes between Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) and CPI(M) supporters.

Given the recent attacks on journalists, the media fraternity decided on publishing blank editorials on Thursday in protest.

(Photo Courtesy: ANI)

The Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party called for a state-wide bandh in Tripura on Thursday. Both parties demanded that a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry should be launched into the case. The BJP also demanded the Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar’s resignation over the killing. However, the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) party was against the idea of a bandh, alleging the opposition was trying to politicise the case.

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A protester drags burning tyres during a day-long strike against the killing of a Tripura journalist in Agartala on Thursday. (Photo Courtesy: Reuters)

On Wednesday, November 22, a special investigation team was set up, helmed by Arindam Nath, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Southern Range), to further probe into the matter. The SIT has now seized Bhaumik’s phone, along with half-burnt copies of three newspaper issues and two pens belonging to Bhowmik. The team has also recovered an AK-47 rifle, which is assumed to be the murder weapon.