Tripura Information and Cultural Affairs minister Sushanta Chowdhury has accused the two women journalists, held in the aftermath of Tripura communal violence, as “agents of a political party”, who “wanted to incite communal unrest in the state”.
The women journos, Samriddhi Sakunia and Swarna Jha, were held on Sunday and granted bail by a local court in Gomati district on Monday (November 15).
Chowdhury called a press meet on Tuesday (November 16) to say the two women were not journalists at all. “These two people, who claimed to be journalists, actually came here as agents of a political party, tried to create a communal riot-like situation here and unite a section of people against our government. They wanted to confuse and provoke people with fake footage,” said Chowdhury.
The minister said the two men lied to Tripura police about a case registered against them in Gomati and did not inform the police before leaving Tripura through Assam.
Chowdhury accused Samriddhi Sakunia, one of the two journalists, of posting fake videos and photos of a burning mosque, claiming they were from Tripura. The minister held the two journalists responsible for inciting communal violence in Amravati district of Maharashtra through their reporting.
“Whatever happened in Maharashtra…who did this? A section of journalists, like Samriddhi Sakunia and Swarna Jha, who came to Tripura on behalf of a party, to create communal instigation and malign the state in front of the country…..we have questions if they are journalists at the first place…those who are working as agents”, the minister said.
Chowdhury said it is a conspiracy to overthrow the Tripura government by a political party (he did not name any) which is bringing hooligans from West Bengal to instigate a particular community against the BJP government in Tripura. He said people should guard against such rumours.
On Monday (November 15), Samriddhi Sakunia and Swarna Jha, journalists with HW News Network, were produced before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) of Gomati district Shubhra Nath, who granted them bail on bail bonds of Rs 7,500. They have been asked to mark their attendance at Kakrabon police station of the district on Tuesday before leaving the state.
Also read: Discussion: Tripura not known for communal flare-ups; what changed now?
An FIR was filed against the journalists at Fatikroy police station on Sunday on a complaint by a VHP supporter alleging that they had maligned the image of the Tripura government with their reporting, according to a statement issued by their employer.
The duo was detained by Assam police in Karimganj district on Sunday, when they were on way to Silchar airport, at the request of Tripura police, and kept at a government-run shelter home for women.
They were arrested by Tripura police on Monday morning and produced before the CJM’s court in Gomati district.
In a tweet on November 11, Sakunia had written, #Tripuraviolence Darga Bazaar: On 19th October at around 2:30 am, some unidentified people burnt down the mosque in Darga Bazaar area. People in the neighborhood are very upset with the fact that now they don’t have any place nearby to go and pray.
A press release issued by the office of Tripura police chief V S Yadav had claimed that Sakunia’s posts were not true and promoted a sense of hatred between communities.
(With inputs from agencies)