Tripura State Rifles officer arrested in 2017 journalist murder case

Debraj Deb
In September this year, the Agartala Press Club had held a protest over the 'slow progress of investigation' in the two murder cases.

An Assistant Commandant of Tripura State Rifles (TSR), the state’s counter-insurgency force, was arrested Wednesday in connection with the 2017 murder of journalist Sudip Dutta Bhowmik.

Two journalists were killed in Tripura in 2017, months before the state went to polls in 2018.

Santanu Bhowmik, engaged with a local TV channel Channel DinRaat, was hacked to death while covering political protests at Mandai, 25 km from Agartala, on September 20, 2017. Senior crime reporter Sudip Dutta Bhowmik, of Syandan Patrika, a Bengali newspaper, was shot dead inside Tripura State Rifles (TSR) 2nd battalion headquarters at RK Nagar in West Tripura on November 21.

Speaking to indianexpress.com, special counsel for CBI in Agartala, Prabir Saha, Wednesday said he had been informed by his Kolkata headquarters that a new arrest had been made in the case.

“I have been told that a new person was arrested in connection with Dutta Bhowmik’s murder. I was informed that he is an Assistant Commandant. He will be produced in court tomorrow," Saha said.

Three persons, including Tapan Debbarma, Commandant of TSR 2nd Battalion, where the journalist was killed, have been arrested earlier.

Sources in the police force said the man arrested Wednesday is Swarupananda Biswas, who had previously served in the TSR 2nd Battalion under Commandant Debbarma.

The Left Front government had formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the case. BJP, which was then in Opposition, had demanded a CBI probe. After the saffron party won a landslide victory in the 2018 Assembly polls, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb handed over the investigation of the murders to CBI.

The Assistant Commandant’s arrest is the first major development in the case since.

Journalists under the banner of Agartala Press Club had protested earlier this year, saying they were dissatisfied with the progress of investigation in the two cases.