Agartala: The media fraternity of Tripura today staged a sit-in protest in front of the Police headquarters in Agartala after a video journalist was allegedly brutally tortured in a police lock-up on Tuesday night.

Senior journalists and media bodies have demanded immediate suspension of the police officer responsible for the entire incident.

On Tuesday, Nitali Dey, a video journalist of a Northeast-based news channel, was reportedly kept in a police lock-up and tortured even though he neither committed a serious offence nor had any complaint against him.

The cops allegedly forced him to drink alcohol, disrobed him and thrashed him brutally. 

Even the sections that are imposed on him were bailable but he was not released as per the usual system.

According to sources, Nitai Dey was covering the fuel crisis story till Tuesday late night at different fuel refilling stations across Agartala city that was already under tight police security to avert any untoward incident.

While performing his professional duties, a heated altercation broke out between the cops and Dey. Some locals, who were also engaged in the scuffle, manhandled the video journalist, sources added.

Later in the night, he was brought to IGM hospital Agartala for medical examination and subsequently shifted to the lock-up of East Agartala police station.

As soon as the news spread, local journalists, led by Agartala Press Club President Subal Kumar Dey, Vice President Arun Nath and Secretary Pranab Sarkar, reached West Agartala Police Station and demanded the suspension of the police officers responsible for the whole incident.

According to an FIR filed by the victim journalist Nitai Dey against the police, an officer-in-charge of College Tilla outpost Arindam Roy first manhandled him at a petrol pump and later used third-degree treatment in the lock up.

“In the intervening night of Wednesday at Radhanagar Petrol Pump near Tripura Gramin Bank, I was in a queue for refuelling my motorbike. When I was approaching the pump a policeman identified as Arindam Roy, who happens to be the in-charge of the college tilla outpost, grabbed me and pulled me out from the queue and started to use abusive language without any fault on my part,” the FIR copy reads.

Dey, in his FIR, also claimed that he underwent inhumane torture throughout the night and described how the on-duty cops harassed him in the most uncivilized way.

“He put me into the police van along with some armed personnel and they warned me to kill inside the van as I have been working for an audio-visual media and doing news against police. They attempted to thrash me inside the van with shoes. Upon reaching East Agartala police station, Arindam Roy pushed me into the OC’s chamber and poured foreign liquor into my mouth and started beating me up. At one point, I fell and he pressed his boots on my chest and warned me to kill unless I divulge the names of the journalists who are working for some news channels and web media. He offered to release me on a condition that I tell him the name of the journalists who work for some particular media outlets,” the FIR copy reads.

The complaint further read: “While hitting me in a dangerous manner, the policeman (Arindam Roy) unrobed me in presence of female staff and used abusive words in a most uncivilized manner. He said, “Now the situation has changed……. nightlife is only for policemen, not journalists. From where do you get the money to buy such expensive attire. You all are thieves.”

However, after hours of protests in front of the police headquarters and the police station, Inspector General of Tripura Police GK Rao met the protesting senior journalists and assured them of fulfilling their demand and the accused policeman under suspension. However, the trial of the case is still underway in the court.  

Meanwhile, the Chief Judicial Magistrate, West Tripura, after hearing the case, directed the police superintendent of West Tripura to submit a detailed report regarding the incident within three days.

After recording his statement of Dey, the court released him on bail. A suo moto case was also taken up against the accused policeman Arindam Roy.

Speaking on the issue, senior advocate Arindam Bhattacharjee said that the charges that have been imposed against him are all bailable and the police could have released him on bail last night. “The victim is mentally devastated and the court has directed the police to arrange treatment for him,” said Bhattacharjee.

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