Guwahati: Two men have been arrested for the murder of Santanu Bhowmik, a journalist who was abducted while covering a clash in Tripura on Tuesday. The men belong to the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura, a tribal political party demanding a separate homeland. The police had initially zeroed in on four persons. Of the remaining two, one was let off after questioning and another, who was injured in the violence, is in hospital.
The clash between the IPFT and its arch-rival Gana Mukti Parishad or GMP, the tribal wing of the ruling CPM, took place in west Tripura's Jirania sub division. At least 60 people were injured and the police had to use force to bring the situation under control.
The 28-year-old reporter braved the onslaught and recorded the unfolding events on his cellphone. But as he went too close to the mob, locals say they saw some men dragging him away. His body was recovered after an hour.
Samir Dhar, the Editor of the "Dinraat" television channel where Mr Bhowmik worked, said it appeared to be a "planned" murder. The reporter, he said, had continued filming even though he was threatened. "Then they dragged him to the side and chopped him barbarically," he said.
Mr Bhowmik's uncle Hiranmoy Ray alleged that the police could have saved the reporter's life had they tried. "When he was dragged, police was around, they could have rescued him," he said.
Today, hundreds of journalists attended the funeral of the reporter.
The state's ruling CPM has blamed the BJP, which is hoping to capture power from the four-term government of Manik Sarkar. The assembly elections in the state are scheduled to be held next year.
The BJP, the CPM alleges, is indirectly helping the IPFT. "This is the first time a journalist has been brutally killed in Tripura... They are trying to create an environment of panic," said Tripura's Information Minister Bhanu Lal Saha.
The BJP accuses the Manik Sarkar government of failing to maintain law and order. "We want a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the killing," said the BJP's state chief Sunil Deodhar.