Agartala: The Tripura Police said that it had registered 24 cases in relation to attacks against journalists in the state since 2020, and promised action against attackers and to provide security to media persons.
Journalists in the state have constantly come under attack since the BJP rode to power in 2018, and more importantly, the attacks have increased manifold after chief minister Biplab Deb issued an open threat to journalists on September 11 last year. According to the Assembly of Journalists (AoJ)’s estimates, the number of attacks against media personnel since 2020 stood at 28.
Taking stock of the situation recently, assistant general of police (law and order) Subrata Chakraborty in a press statement said that reports had appeared in the last few days in certain sections of the media expressing concern over the increasing incidents of violence against journalists and media persons and the failure of the police to take action against the perpetrators of such crimes.
Chakraborty said that the director general of police (DGP) had taken a serious note of such reports and had reviewed the situation with district SPs.
“The Director-General of Police (DGP) V.S. Yadav has taken such reports flashing in the media very seriously. On June 5, a detailed review of all such cases was done in a meeting with all the District Superintendent of Police held through Video Conference and chaired by DGP. During the discussion with the Districts Superintendent of Police, it has been found that 17 cases were registered in 2020, and seven cases were registered in 2021 as on date,” Chakraborty added.
He said that out of the 24 cases registered, 16 cases ended in charge sheets, three cases were compromised by the parties involved while the remaining five cases are still under investigation.
“In some of these cases in which victim was not able to identify the miscreants, all-out efforts were made by police to identify, and consequently, more than 15 persons were identified during the investigation and charge-sheeted. The investigation of cases registered was carried out purely on merit and evidence,” the police official said.
However, arrests were made in cases where punishment was more than seven years as per the laid down procedure and applicable sections of the Criminal Procedure Code. In other cases, notices were issued, he added.
“There is no separate law to deal with cases of media and hence only codified procedure was followed in all these cases. No media person ever complained about improper registration of cases or investigations. This only shows that the complainants were satisfied with police action. Even in cases where the complaints were prima facie found to be exaggerated, the cases were registered in IPC sections which were in line with the contents of the complaint. The Superintendent of Police of all the districts were also apprised during the meeting that prompt action was taken by the District Police whenever the matter was brought to their notice,” he said in the press statement.
The statement from the police came after the residence of veteran journalist and vice president of the AoJ Samir Dhar was attacked by BJP supporters on May 29.
Last year on September 11, chief minister Biplab Deb, while the foundation for the first special economic zone at Sabroom in South Tripura district, had accused journalists of “confusing people” and “getting overexcited” about reporting on the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
“Some newspapers are trying to confuse people, getting over excited …History will not forgive them, people of Tripura will not forgive them and I, Biplab Deb, will not forgive them,” he had said.
The statement was widely condemned by journalists across the state, and also warned that such statements could lead to attacks against media persons. Similarly, a number of journalists voicing opinions against the government have come under attack.