2 women journalists named in Tripura FIR, accuse cops of intimidation

Sammriddhi Sakunia and Swarna Jha were covering the recent communal violence in the State; VHP member’s complaint accused them of giving ‘instigating speech’

Journalists Samriddhi Sakunia (left) and Swarna Jha have been named in an FIR filed by the Tripura police. Pic: Twitter

Following a complaint filed by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), a right-wing group, Tripura police have filed an FIR (first information report) naming two women journalists of the Hindustan Times group. The journalists, Sammriddhi Sakunia and Swarna Jha, said the police landed at the hotel at Unakoti district that they were staying in, and ‘intimidated’ them, early Sunday morning.

“@Jha_Swarnaa and I, the correspondent at @hwnewsnetwork, have been booked under 3 sections of IPC at the Fatikroy police station, Tripura. VHP filed complaint against me and @Jha_Swarnaa. FIR has been filed under the section: 120(B), 153(A)/ 504,” said Sakunia on Twitter, sharing a copy of the FIR.

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The journalist further said the police first arrived at the hotel on Saturday, at about 10:30 pm, and served the FIR copy at 5.30 am on Sunday. “We were supposed to leave for the capital Agartala but have been not allowed to move despite full cooperation. There are around 16-17 police deployed outside our hotel,” she tweeted.

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The FIR was filed by Kanchan Das at the Fatikroy police station, alleged that the two journalists made an ‘instigating speech’ against the State government and Hindus as they visited Muslim community members in the Paul Bazaar area on Saturday.

Recent violence

Tripura has been witnessing heightened communal tension of late. A recent trigger was a rally held by the VHP — in support of Hindus in Bangladesh — on October 26, at the Panisagar sub-division. During the course of the rally, a mosque and several shops in the neighbourhood were reportedly attacked.

While the police and Union Home Ministry insisted that no mosque was burnt in the violence, local reports have stated otherwise.

“There have been news reports that have been circulating that a mosque in Kakraban area of Gomati district in Tripura has been damaged and vandalised. These news reports are fake and are a complete misrepresentation of facts,” said a Home Ministry statement on Saturday.

Charges and counters

In his complaint, Das said that Sakunia and Jha, said to be aged 21 and 25, respectively, “delivered instigating speech against Hindus and the Tripura government” in Fatikroy on November 13. He accused the duo of ‘falsely imparting’ the names of VHP and the Bajrang Dal over the alleged burning of the mosque.

This, Das alleged, was part of a “criminal conspiracy” to “destroy communal harmony in Tripura”, as well as malign the names of the Hindutva organisations, and the State and Union governments.

On Sunday, Sakunia tweeted that she and Jha were not allowed to leave their hotel though they fully cooperated with the police.

Jha tweeted: “Last night, at around 10:30 PM, cops came outside our hotel but they did not talk to us. When we were about to checkout at around 5:30 am, they told us about the complaint against us and told us about being taken to Dharamnagar police station for questioning.”

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