'National media neglect murder of northeast journalists'

ANI | Updated: Nov 22, 2017 17:29 IST

Agartala (Tripura) [India] Nov 22 (ANI): Shocked Tripura journalists on Wednesday expressed disappointment with national media for showing "lack of interests" in the killing of journalists in the northeast.

On Tuesday, a Tripura journalist, Sudip Datta Bhowmik was allegedly killed by a Tripura State Rifles (TSR) guard.

Seeing little coverage in the national media following the incident, Syed Sajjad Ali, President of Tripura Journalist Union, told ANI, "Unfortunately, this murder has not made a dent in the national arena. The mainstream media is quite reluctant to give it prominence that the coverage demands."

He, however, also rued that even the northeastern media were also reluctant to highlight Bhowmik's murder.

"Our fraternity members in northeast media are not in a mood to make it a big issue and work with us to make the demand harsh against such injustice, such crime, such brutality, such infringement of media freedom," said Ali.

Sujit Chakraborty, eminent journalist and ex-secretary of Agartala Press Club, also echoed Ali's sentiments.

"The killing of Sudip didn't get prominent coverage by the national media. Except some small news items, they ignored the heinous crime. Had it happened in major cities, it would have got wider publicity by both national print and electronic media.

"Not only media, but national leaders, except Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, have also not reacted so far," Chakraborty added.

However, Tapas Dey, former MLA and editor of a local newspaper, criticised Manik Sarkar-led government and said Bhowmik's killing was a result of intolerance.

"I will describe Sudip's killing as a result of intolerance (on) of the government (part) as well as of the administration. They don't like to face the media reports highlighting corruption. The easiest thing is killing as the perpetrators get backing or non action of the government (sic)," Dey said.

"The government is responsible for failing to provide security to media personnel. It is the new phenomenon to kill journalists in order to stop negative media coverage. Corruption here is institutionalised. First, the efforts are made to purchase media, but when it fails then they are awarded death," the former MLA said.

Bhowmik, 49, was working for a vernacular daily Syandan Patrika and was also contributing to local television channel News Vanguard.

He was allegedly shot dead when he went to battalion headquarters on Tuesday.

Ali, the chief of Tripura Journalist Union, said, "Sudip Datta Bhowmik went to the chamber of the commandant Tapan Debbarma, who is heading the second battalion of Tripura State Rifles. After that we don't know what exactly happened."

He further added: "But, he was shot at in a meticulous way so that he doesn't survive. They (TSR) took follow up measures to hush up the evidence by taking away the body to distance, burning down papers he was carrying, and his mobile phones were also missing."

He said it was the first incident that a journalist was murdered by a security force.

"We have witnessed the killing of journalists in other northeastern states like Manipur and Assam but those murders were committed either by insurgents or anti-social elements but killing of Sudip (Bhowmik) was horrific in a sense that it was committed, perpetrated, and executed by the security force. The Commandant himself is the guilty of committing the crime as the guard opened fire on Sudip did so on his orders," Ali said.

He also said the union was not satisfied by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) enquiry ordered by the state government "as the CID is a part or tool of the state police, so it can't probe the case wherein a senior security official and his team were involved".

Tapan Debbarma, the Commandant of 2nd Battalion TSR, in whose office and on his direction the killing allegedly took place has been arrested.

His death occurred nearly two months after young television journalist Santanu Bhowmik died after he was attacked while covering a road blockade agitation of the IPFT. (ANI)