Two women journalists detained, Editors Guild demands release
Two journalists were detained on Sunday by the Assam Police on request of the Tripura Police, following a complaint by the VHP that they were “maligning” the image of the state government and of the outfit. The Editor’s Guild of India has condemned the arrest, demanding their immediate release and restoration of their freedom to travel.
The journalists, Samriddhi Sakunia (21) and Swarna Jha (25), were detained while on their way to Silchar, according to a statement by the HW News Network. They were then booked by the Tripura Police under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 153 (provocation with intent to cause riot) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace).
They had been reporting on the communal violence in the state. The VHP claims that the journalists “false imparted” the VHP and Bajrang Dal while visiting a mosque that had reportedly been torched in Tripura’s Gomti district.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had dismissed reports that mosques had been vandalised as “fake”.
“The mosque in Dargabazar area of Kakraban has not been damaged and the Tripura Police in Gomati district is working to maintain peace and tranquillity,” the MHA said.
An association of 11 digital news organisations, the Digipub News India Foundation, condemned the arrest.
“Digipub strongly deplores the harassment of the two journalists by the Tripura police who invaded their privacy by showing up at their hotel and demanding their Aadhaar numbers and transport details, ostensibly to provide ‘security’, a contention that soon turned out to be false,” the foundation said in a statement.
On November 11, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a plea seeking quashing of an FIR against civil society members, who said they had been charged under UAPA for posts made on social media about “targeted violence” against the minority community in Tripura.
The Tripura Police had earlier booked a journalist under UAPA for tweeting “Tripura is burning”. They had also asked social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for details on over a hundred accounts from which allegedly provocative posts had been made.