Two Delhi-based women journalists who were arrested by Tripura Police on charges of alleged ‘instigation of violence’ in the state, were on November 15 granted bail by a local court.
The HW News Network journalists were granted bail on personal bonds of Rs 75,000 each and were asked to appear in Kakrabon police station to facilitate the investigation.
Assam Police had detained the duo on November 14 at Nilambazar police station area of Karimganj district in South Assam on the request of Tripura Police. They were handed over at night and on November 15, they were taken to Kakrabon police station in Gomati district and were later produced before the court after preliminary questioning.
Advocate Pijush Kanti Biswas appeared for the accused journalists and told media that the content of the complaint based on which FIR was registered did not justify their arrest. The police detained them in a malicious intention to suppress the independent voice, he alleged.
“Sammriddhi K Sakunia (21) from Odisha and Swarna Jha (24) from Delhi came here to cover the news hearing the incidents of attacks, vandalism and burning of mosque, minority houses and shops and burning of holy Quran in social media and made a few stories on the situation,” Biswas said.
He argued in the court that both the journalists have made some reports on Tripura but intention of spreading communal hatred and criminal conspiracy could not be inferred from their writing.
Meanwhile, the accused journalists questioned the procedure of their arrest and argued under section 46 of CrPC mandated women cannot be arrested after sunset and before sunrise and even if police want to arrest a woman after sunset, they have to seek prior permission of the magistrate, but in their case, it was not followed.
Meanwhile, in a statement Tripura Police said the journalists had come to Tripura on November 11, and a case has been filed against them in Kakraban police station of Gomati district under various sections of the IPC for “creation of hatred between communities by fabricating, concealing of record etc. in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy as revealed from their Twitter posts”.
“Taking cue from the recent state of violence at Amravati and other parts of Maharashtra as a repercussion of communal incident, it has become clear that some vested interests are trying to flare up the communal incident in Tripura,” it stated adding that they were asked to share the documents visible in their videos but instead of coming to Agartala, they made an escape towards Assam.
During the course of their reporting, the journalists tweeted images and videos of mosques that had been vandalised, which appeared to contradict the police who had denied one of the incidents. Sakunia tweeted on November 14 that she had to face “intimidation” while reporting in Tripura; however, the home ministry called it a “complete misrepresentation of facts”.