TRIPURA: A reporter covering political unrest in India’s north-east was beaten to death during violent clashes, officials have said, two weeks after the high-profile murder of another prominent journalist.
Shantanu Bhowmick was set upon with sticks as he reported on violence on Wednesday between warring political factions and police outside Agartala, the capital of remote Tripura state.
On Thursday, the state police superintendent Abhijit Saptarshi said more than a dozen officers had also been injured in the fracas and tensions remained high in the troubled region. “We later found the journalist’s body at the site of the clashes,” he told AFP from Tripura.
No arrests have yet been made in connection with the reporter’s death, but four people were detained on separate charges related to the political violence, Saptarshi said.
Bhowmick’s death brings the number of reporters killed in India since the early 1990s to 29, according to figures from the Committee to Protect Journalists.
It comes just a fortnight after the murder of Gauri Lankesh, a newspaper editor and outspoken critic of the ruling Hindu nationalist party, whose death sparked an outpouring of anger.
The 55-year-old was shot dead by three unknown gunmen as she entered her home in the southern city of Bangalore in Karnataka state on 5 September. No one has yet been identified or arrested in connection with the killing.
In 2015 India was ranked the deadliest country in Asia for journalists by Reporters Without Borders – although most deaths occur in remote rural areas away from the major urban centres. In April, the press freedom group ranked the country 136th of 180 countries in its world press freedom ratings, blaming “Hindu nationalists trying to purge all manifestations of ‘anti-national’ thought from the national debate”.