Santanu Bhowmik, 28, was hacked to death in West Tripura on Wednesday. Photo: The Hindu
Santanu Bhowmik, 28, was hacked to death in West Tripura on Wednesday. Photo: The Hindu

An Agartala television journalist was kidnapped and hacked to death on Wednesday, allegedly by Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) activists, according to media reports.

Santanu Bhowmik, 28, who worked for Dinrat news channel, was stopped while traveling home after covering a political clash between IPFT and Tripura Rajaer Upajati Ganamukti Parishad (TRUGP) supporters in West Tripura district, The Hindu reported.

The brutal murder, which follows the September 5 assassination of journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh in Bangalore, highlights the dangers faced by journalists in India.

A police officer said, “The video journalist had gone to Mandai, about 30 km away from Agartala to cover the road blockade when he was attacked with sharp weapons and hacked to death.

“Police resorted to lathi-charge and dispersed the mob in Mandai as they assembled there violating the prohibitory orders. Police later recovered his body and brought it to government-run Govind Ballabh Pant Medical College and Hospital. Tension is prevailing in the area.”

Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973, which empowers an executive magistrate to prohibit an assembly of more than four people,  has been imposed in two districts of Tripura. 

Several journalists protested against the killing, demanding that the perpetrators be brought to justice.

On Tuesday, about 60 members of the TRUGP were injured in separate attacks allegedly carried out by rival IPFT cadres at 12 locations in Tripura, IANS reported.

For many years the IPFT has been demanding a separate state for indigenous Tripuris, which is opposed by the ruling Left Front. Since Tuesday, Section 144 has been imposed in at least 10 places in West Tripura and Khowai districts, including Mandai.