India News

Tripura Violence: SC Orders ‘No Coercive Action’ against 1 Journalist & 2 Lawyers Booked under UAPA; 2 Women Journalists from Assam Granted Bail

No coercive action shall be taken against journalist Shyam Meera Singh and two other lawyers who were booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for tweeting on the recent Tripura violence, ordered the Supreme Court.


Following the order, Singh took to Twitter and said none of the 102 people named in the FIR had received the notice. He added that while they were unsure whether to the court or not, he went based on advice that he should and has consequently got protection. He noted that if the rest go to court, then they too would easily get protection.

In October, Tripura police had booked 102 social media users including several journalists, activists and lawyers under the UAPA for tweeting about and reporting on the recent communal violence in the state. 

During Durgapuja celebrations in mid-October, communal violence had broken out in parts of Bangladesh and several pandals and Hindu temples were vandalised, resulting in the death of at least seven people. Following this, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), decided to organise a rally in Tripura, in protest.

It was during this rally on October 26 that several mosques and shops were vandalised. Shyam Meera Singh told Silverscreen India that he was booked under the stringent UAPA for tweeting on the same.

Singh shared the FIR and the notice with Silverscreen India. The West Agartala Police had also served notices to Delhi-based human rights lawyers Mukesh of Peoples Union for Civil Liberties and Ansar Indori of National Confederation of Human Rights stating the same.

All of them were represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan.

Meanwhile, two women journalists – Samriddhi Sakunia and Swarna Jha – who reported on the Tripura violence were arrested for allegedly “maligning the image of Tripura government, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal.” They were initially detained by the Assam Police on Sunday on their way to Silchar, Assam after the Tripura Police registered multiple cases against them.

An official statement released the same day by HW News Network, where the two journalists work, termed the incident “sheer harassment and targeting of the press on the part of the Tripura Police and the Tripura Govt to suppress us from reporting the facts of the case.”

The statement also revealed that the duo had been arrested based on the complaint of a local VHP member, and were charged under IPC sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 153A (promoting enmity on grounds of religion), and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace).

Sharing the statement and a copy of the FIR, Sakunia tweeted that they had been detained at the Nilambazar police station in Karimganj, Assam and were informed by the officer-in-charge that the SP of Gomti District gave the orders for their detention. “The police arrived yesterday at the hotel around 10:30 at night and served the FIR copy in the morning 5:30 am. We were supposed to leave for the capital Agartala but have been not allowed to move despite full cooperation. There are around 16-17 police deployed outside our hotel,” she said.

According to the FIR, the complainant stated that the journalist duo had visited the Paul Bazar area under the Fatikroy constituency on November 13 and while visiting a few Muslim houses, had delivered an “instigating speech against Hindu(s) and Tripura Govt.” It further added that on October 24, Sakunia had falsely implied that the VHP and Bajrang Dal were behind the damage of Paul Bazar Masjid.


The national spokesperson of the All India Trinamool Congress Saket Gokhale then issued a notice to the SP of Unakoti, copying Chief Secretary, DGP Tripura Police and NHRC in the matter. “The intimidation of journalists using state machinery on behalf of political interests will not be tolerated,” he wrote. 

The Editors Guild of India too condemned the action by the Tripura Police and demanded the immediate release of the two journalists and restoration of their freedom to travel.

Following this, Sakunia and Jha were granted bail by the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Gomti District, Tripura. Sujit Nair, the co-founder and managing editor of HW News Network, took to Twitter on Monday to share the news.