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Misuse of law, fabricated charges, harassment, illegal detention and arrest of two women journalists for reporting on communal violence

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Samriddhi Sakunia and Swarna Jha

Journalists and HRD

Tripura

HRDA has issued an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India on November 19, 2021, regarding the misuse of law, harassment, intimidation, and illegal detention and arrest of two women journalists for reporting on communal violence in Tripura.

Samriddhi Sakunia and Swarna Jha are journalists working with HW News Network. 

Extensive violence that occurred in Tripura Rallies was taken out by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Hindu Jagran Manch (HJM), wherein participants yelled disdain mottos, vandalized properties, and conflicted with the police between October 15 to 26, 2021.  Based on this violence, two journalists from the HW News Network namely Samriddhi Sakunia (21) and Ms. Swarna Jha (25) traveled to Tripura to cover this news.  HW News Network published their report titled, “I Hate What Happened in Bangladesh…But Pains To See Our Mosque Burnt: Locals of Darga Bazaar Recount Horror” on November 12th. Day after tomorrow, an FIR was registered against them in the Fatikroy Police Station by Mr. Kanchan Das, a member of the VHP under IPC section 120 (B), 153A, 504, 120 (B), 204.

Based on the FIR, a team with 16-17 personal police with CRPF, reached the Hotel Panchbati in Dharmanagar where Ms. Sakunia and Ms. Jha were staying and at that time the journalists tweeted that they were not allowed to move out from the hotel without detention notice. During the check-out period, the Sichar in Assam was served a copy of the FIR and was detained at the Nilam Bazar police station, at Karimganj District, and shifted to the Tripura Police officials back to Tripura at around 1 am in the night.  

The police represent them before a Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Gomati district, Tripura, and released on bail stating that the alleged offenses against them were serious in nature along with A press statement issued by the Director-General of Police, Agartala, alleges that the reporters were creating tensions between communities and “fabricating, concealing of records in furtherance of criminal conspiracy.

We believe that the above charges against the two women journalists and the manner in which the Tripura and Assam police acted against the women journalists is a case of extreme abuse of power and violated multiple sections of the DK Basu guidelines. 

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