While the court of the chief judicial magistrate in Agartala has sent both constable Nandalal Reang and commandant of the 2nd battalion of Tripura State Rifles (TSR) Tapan Dabbarma to a ten-day police remand on the charge of gunning down journalist Sudip Datta Bhowmik, newspapers in Tripura, on November 23, published blank editorials to protest the killing.
On November 21, 48-year-old Bhowmik, a crime reporter with the Bengali newspaper Syandan Patrika, had gone to meet the commandant’s office in the battalion headquarters R.K. Nagar area of Agartala as per a prior appointment. Bhowmik reportedly had been writing about corruption charges against commandant Debbarma.
The media fraternity in the state expressed shock at the murder. A large group of agitated journalists in the capital city burnt the ‘press’ jackets given by the state government after the killing of journalist Santanu Bhowmick in September while covering a rally in West Tripura district.
While initial reports in the media said Reang shot at Bhowmik from point blank range, reports from Agartala on November 23 claimed that Reang had told the police during his interrogation that it was Debbarma who triggered the gun and killed him inside his office. While Reang was arrested a few hours after Bhowmik’s death, Debbarma was picked up by the police on November 22.
A three-member special investigation team, headed by the deputy inspector general of police (Southern Range) Arindam Nath, was formed on November 22 to investigate the matter.