AGARTALA, June 23 - Setting aside all speculations, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has agreed to take up the murder cases of two journalists, Sudip Dutta Bhowmik and Santanu Bhowmik, for investigation.
While Santanu Bhowmik, a local TV journalist, was killed when he went to collect news in the Mandwai area of West Tripura district on September 21 last year, Sudip Dutta Bhowmik, crime reporter of a vernacular newspaper, was murdered at the headquarters of the 2nd Battalion of the Tripura State Rifles at RK Nagar in the same district on November 20 last year.
Earlier, the trial of the Sudip Dutta Bhowmik murder case, probed by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Tripura Police which had also filed a charge sheet, was stopped in the Additional District and Sessions Judge court following a directive from the High Court of Tripura acting on a writ petition.
“The CBI has informed us about its decision to take up both the murder cases of journalists following pursuance of the State Government,” said Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb today.
While briefing media persons, Deb said the State Cabinet has petitioned the Centre to investigate the two murder cases to ensure justice to the victims’ families.
“Today, we feel relief as the CBI is going to investigate both the cases of murder. With this, the BJP-IPFT Government has fulfilled yet another promise given in the party’s vision document,” he said.
“CBI sleuths will investigate both the cases to ensure justice to the bereaved families of the two journalists. The Government has made a positive initiative so that the media can work with full freedom in Tripura,” the Chief Minister said.
Deb said the State Government has already taken steps for the welfare of the media community like effecting a steep hike in the pension for accredited journalists from Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000 and providing financial assistance to ailing journalists.
Law Minister Ratan Lal Nath said that democracy is weakened when the media, which is considered its fourth estate, is not free to work. “As the president of the State BJP, Biplab Kumar Deb had promised to order a CBI probe into the murder cases of the two journalists if the party was voted to power. Today the promise has been fulfilled,” he added.
The Agartala Press Club and other journalist bodies, which staged a 171-day candlelight protest in the capital town demanding a CBI probe into the twin cases, have welcomed the decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs in this regard.