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Three years after Tripura journalist Santanu Bhowmik murder, family is still waiting for justice

Agartala, Tripura: Three years after journalist Santanu Bhowmik was hacked to death while covering a political protest at Mandwi village in Tripura, his family is still waiting for justice.

Santanu Bhowmik, a journalist with Channel DinRaat, a local cable television channel, was killed on September 20, 2017. Speaking to, Santanu’s mother Papri Nag Bhowmik, 55, Sunday said she wants to see her son get justice before she dies. Bhowmik, who serves in a clerical position with the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), said: “My son is gone. I just want to see his criminals brought to justice before I die. What else can I ask for?”

Santanu’s sister Pinki Bhowmik, who was pursuing BSc in Horticulture outside Tripura at the time of his death, has now finished her studies and is staying with her mother. His estranged father Sadhan Bhowmik, who had expressed distrust in the then-Left government’s probe and sought CBI inquiry, could not be reached for comment.

Barely two months after Santanu’s killing, Sudip Dutta Bhowmik, of Syandan Patrika, a local Bengali newspaper, was shot inside Tripura State Rifles (TSR) 2nd battalion headquarters at RK Nagar in West Tripura on November 21. Their murders had been among the key issues on which Tripura’s 2018 Assembly polls were fought.

Then-ruling CPI(M) had accused Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) cadres of being involved in Santanu’s killing. However, IPFT, now a partner in the state government with the BJP, had rubbished the allegations. 

The Left Front government had formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the issue, a move opposed by journalists, who demanded a CBI probe.

This demand found place in the BJP’s Vision Document for the Assembly polls, and shortly after taking charge, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb handed over the case to the CBI. However, two years later, journalists are angry with the slow progress of the investigation. On Sunday, several memorial programmes were held for Santanu, where the demand to bring his killers to book was repeated.

Santanu’s news channel remembered him in a programme Sunday morning. Samir Dhar, Executive Editor of Channel DinRaat, offered floral tributes in memory of the late journalist and said, “We haven’t got justice for Santanu’s death yet. He was working to expose people conspiring to destabilise peace in the state. He was brutally killed”.

A group of journalists under the banner of Tripura Assembly of Journalists (TAJ) held a condolence meeting in Santanu’s memory in front of Rabindra Shatabarshiki Bhawan in Agartala.

TAJ Chairerson Subal Kumar Dey said, “Justice for Santanu is yet to come. The entire family is helpless today, though the previous government paid Rs 10 lakh compensation to them. The incumbent government has handed over investigation to the CBI, but is not interested in actual progress.” A separate condolence meeting was held at the Agartala Press Club, where club secretary Pranab Sarkar offered tributes to Santanu.

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