Agartala: Two women journalists who had visited Tripura to report on the alleged religious violence were detained by the Assam police on request of Tripura police on Sunday.

The Tripura police had asked the Nilambazar police station under Karimganj district to detain the two women journalists — Samriddhi K Sakunia and Swarna Jha — for reporting on communal violence during which the mosque and minority property were targeted.

Over the past three days, the two journalists travelled to different parts of the state to report on the violence that took place in the aftermath of the right wing protest rally against attacks on Hindu minority in neighbouring Bangladesh.

According to the latest update, a team of Tripura police has left for Nilambazar in Karimganj district to bring the two journalists back to Tripura and investigate the duo’s reporting on a purported burnt mosque and a half burnt Quran, which the police suspect to be doctored.

Taking to twitter, Samriddhi wrote, “We have been detained at the Nilambazar police station, Karimganj, Assam. We were informed by the officer in-charge of Nilambazar PS that SP of Gomati District gave the orders for our detention.”

A statement issued from the office of Tripura Police Director General VS Yadav claimed that the posts by Sakunia were complicit in fabricating facts and promoting a sense of hatred between communities.

“In this social media post she posted a video of her visit to the half burned prayer hall damaged by mischievous fire in the house of one Rahamat Ali of Hurijala, under Kakraban police station on 11/11/2021 try to claim that one holy Quran was burned in the incident occurred in the night of 19/10/2021 which refers to Kakraban PS Case No. 74/2021 U/S 436 IPC. This is contrary to the findings so far revealed in the course of investigation as the presence of no such damaged books/documents was brought to the notice of the investigating officer and fire service staff who extinguished the fire,” the statement reads.

It said the Tripura police had contacted the journalists over telephone on Sunday morning and that they were specifically told to give details of the document visible in the video, to which Samriddhi told that the document was available at the alleged place of occurrence and it is the responsibility of police to trace the document. She also informed them that they will be leaving Tripura by evening flight from Agartala.

“She was requested by a police officer to stay for sometime at Agartala for her examination. Further verification was made by examining house owner Rahamat Ali by the investigating officer on Sunday and he said that there might be some burned documents and these were taken away by a team from Delhi who visited the place of occurrence in the last part of October 2021,” the statement reads.

“It may be mentioned that a team of lawyers from Delhi visited the place on 27/10/2021 and made a similar claim with a questionable photograph. Taking cue from the recent state of violence at Amravati and other parts of Maharashtra as a repercussion of communal incident, it has become clear that some vested interests are trying to flare up the communal incident in Tripura and the Investigating Officer felt it wise to lodge a suo-moto complaint for creating hatred between religious group by false fabrication, concealing documents etc,” the Tripura police said.

A case under section 153A/153B/193/504/120B/204 IPC was under investigation by Kakraban police station and they were asked to meet the police but instead of coming to Agartala, the two reporters made an escape towards Assam, a police official said.

“On getting this information Assam police was contacted and they were detained at Nilam Bazaar PS at about 1500 hrs on 14/11/2021. Police party from Dharmananagar women PS is reaching at Nilam Bazaar and the detained persons are being brought. The investigating officer of Kakraban PS Case No. 82/2021, dated 14/11/2021 U/S 153A/153B/193/504/120B/204 IPC has also proceeded towards Dharmanagar for bringing the detained persons for further course of legal action,” the press statement reads.

The police further said that these two persons were earlier found involved in spreading communal hatred at Pal Bazaar under Fatikroy PS under North Tripura under which the concerned police station has registered a case against the duo and they were served with notices U/S 41A Cr.PC and supposed to appear before the investigation agency by November 21 according to their convenience.

Earlier on Sunday, Samriddhi took to twitter and wrote, “Swarnaa and I, the correspondent at @hwnewsnetwork have been booked under 3 sections of IPC at the Fatikroy police station, Tripura. VHP filed a complaint against me and @Jha_Swarnaa FIR has been filed under the section: 120(B), 153(A)/ 504.”

“The police arrived yesterday at the hotel around 10:30 at night and served the FIR copy in the morning at 5:30am. We were supposed to leave for the capital Agartala but have been not allowed to move despite full cooperation. There are around 16-17 police deployed outside our hotel,” Samriddhi wrote.

In response to her tweet, Tripura police said that they were not detained by police at any point of time. Neither were they restrained from moving out.

The descriptions on the Twitter profiles of the two journalists state that they work with HW News Network. Sakunia’s profile states that she also writes for a few other media publications as well.

An official statement from HW News Network put out on social media said, “HW News Network Journalists Samriddhi Sakunia and Swarna Jha have been detained by Assam Police on their way to Silchar. Assam Police has said that they don’t have any case against our journalists but Tripura Police asked them to detain them.”

Meanwhile, Editors Guild of India and the Indian Womens’ Press Corps condemned the Tripura Police actions and demanded immediate release of the two journalists.

Also Read | Tripura violence: SC to hear plea seeking quashing of FIR against civil society members

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