Agartala: The high court of Tripura on Monday asked the state government to apprise the court of the progress of investigation in the attack in five media houses and ransacked a large number of party offices of opposition CPI-M including its headquarters early this month on October 7 next.
During the hearing of a PIL high court was informed that one of the prime accused of attacking four media outlets in the capital city identified as BJP youth front leader Raghunath Lodh has been arrested on Sunday in the city and a local court sent him to two days judicial custody. The crime branch of Tripura police has been trying to arrest others but the govt couldn’t provide a satisfactory reply on the progress of investigation.
After hearing the case, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Akil Kureshi and S G Chattopadhyay rescheduled the hearing of the case on Thursday and directed the government to apprise the about the progress of investigation. In the earlier occasion, court when served notice had asked the government to reply today on progress of investigation but they failed.
At least 25 days after the incident in broad daylight and immediate identification of the attackers, a day before the hearing of the case in the high court, in dramatic move police had shown the arrest of Raghunath and immediately he was produced to the court. And, as expected since police weren’t able to produce the case diary, the court sent him to jail.
However, BJP sources claimed that Raghunath was not arrested, he had surrendered to police to save the face of BJP-IPFT government. All the accused persons including Raghunath have been attending all the party programmes including the CM’s functions in the city and roaming safely soon after attacking the media house and assaulting journalists inside the office from a BJP rally but the police didn’t arrest them.
One Haripada Das had filed a PIL on Sept 20 last against police inaction for the attacks and court served two week notice and listed the case today for hearing. The petitioner alleged that police didn’t take any action despite lodging FIRs and deposition of the videograph and CCTV footage of the perpetrators from a BJP rally, which was led by party Vice President Rajib Bhattacharjee, General Secretaries Tinku Roy and Papia Datta.
The petitioner’s advocate Ms Rajasree Purkasthya argued the court that police have not been allowed by the state government to arrest the accused persons who were identified with proof because all of them are belonging to ruling BJP. The attacks and violence have been continuing sporadically till the date, as police didn’t take any action against the attackers, which has spread a fear among the people especially the supporters of opposition and the media workers.
She pointed out that when vandalizing the newspaper offices and setting the press vehicles on fire in the afternoon in public, some BJP cadres were seen beating up two TV journalists of a channel in their office premise, which was carrying the flag of the BJP party. A week after the attack some unknown miscreants attacked a newspaper employee of BJP’s mouthpiece here at night near the high court.
“Because of police inaction, two more journalists were attacked in Gomati district even on Sunday, which raised the figure to 34 in last one year. Unfortunately, in none of the cases, police took any exemplary action against the attackers that appeared to be a threat for independent journalism in Tripura,” she pointed out adding that terror and fearful atmosphere have been creating hindrance in the functioning of democratic institutions in the state.