2 journalists reporting on Tripura communal violence detained in Assam
The Tripura Police has booked two women journalists for allegedly "instigating" communal enmity in the state after an FIR was lodged against them by a Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) activist. The Delhi-based journalists identified as Samriddhi K Sakunia and Swarna Jha had arrived in the state on Thursday. They were reporting on recent instances of alleged religious vandalism in the state.
- There have been reports of communal clashes in Tripura in response to anti-Hindu violence during Durga puja in Bangladesh.
- The reports even triggered violence in Maharashtra.
- The journalists' detention comes amid an increased crackdown on media reporting in recent years.
- On the other hand, there has also been a surge in fake news, particularly in the context of communal violence.
The FIR against the journalists has been registered at Fatikroy Police Station in Tripura's Unakoti district based on the complaint of one Kanchan Das of Kumarghat They have been booked under sections relating to spreading communal disharmony, committing insult with the intent of provoking breach of peace, and criminal conspiracy. The journalists were served notices to record their statements on November 21.
The FIR alleged that the journalists were trying to malign the VHP and the Tripura government. "The accused intentionally imparted the name of VHP in that incident which could affect the harmony between Hindu and Muslim community," it said.
The journalists said they were "intimidated" by police on Sunday morning and were not allowed to leave their hotel. They said the police informed them about the FIR when they were checking out on Sunday morning to leave for Agartala. The police then informed them they have to appear at the Dharmanagar Police Station, they said. However, the date was changed to November 21.
A police officer told NDTV that the police "only served a notice" to the journalists. "We today went to meet the journalists who were staying in a hotel in Dharmanagar sub-division of Tripura's north district. We took their permission and spoke with them," the officer said. The officer further said after requests, the journalists were also allowed some time to appear with their lawyer.
The journalists had allegedly misreported a story of the burning of a Quran at a mosque in Kakrban, Gomati district. However, the journalists claim that they spoke to locals about the damage to a mosque and shared a copy of an FIR that mentioned the VHP rally on Twitter. The Home Ministry on Saturday refuted the reports of damage and vandalization of a mosque.
The story of the mosque had triggered violence in Maharashtra for the last two days. There were reports of violence in parts of Maharashtra on Friday after minority groups took out rallies to protest against the alleged vandalism in Tripura. The rallies were held in include Amravati, Nanded, Malegaon, Washim, and Yavatmal. Twenty people have been arrested so far.