A journalist holds a placard during a protest in New Delhi over the killing of reporter Shantanu Bhowmik, who was killed while covering a rally in the remote northeastern state of Tripura. (AP/Tsering Topgyal)

Local reporter beaten to death in northeastern India

New Delhi, September 21, 2017–Indian authorities must conduct a thorough investigation into the death of Shantanu Bhowmik, a reporter for the local Bengali-language Dinraat news channel, and bring those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

The journalist was beaten to death with sticks yesterday while covering violent clashes between members of the separatist Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura and the ruling Tripura Rajya Upajati Ganamukti Parishad party in the northeastern Tripura state near the border with Bangladesh, according to media reports, and a journalist who witnessed the event, but was not authorized by his publication to speak on the matter.

The crowd hit Bhowmik on his legs and then his head, according to a report in the English-language the Indian Express newspaper that quoted an unnamed journalist who was also at the scene of the attack.

According to the Indian Express, Bhowmik was taking pictures with his mobile phone when the crowd attacked him. Swapan Chakraborty, an editor at Dinraat, told CPJ that the last image they received from Bhowmik was sent at 1:15 p.m.

Local police later recovered his body near a stadium, according to media reports.

“Authorities must thoroughly investigate the motive behind the murder of Shantanu Bhowmik, who was killed while on assignment,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia Program Coordinator in Washington D.C. “Authorities must swiftly bring Bhowmik’s killers to justice, and ensure the future safety of journalists working in India.”

The West Tripura police superintendent Abhishek Saptarishi told CPJ that officials arrested four people in connection with Bhowmik’s death, and charged them for murder and unlawful assembly. “This is a very serious matter, and we are going to give due importance to the case,” Saptarishi said.

At least 41 journalists have been killed in India in relation to their work since 1992, according to CPJ research.