No outrage, no debate; Was Shantanu Bhowmick any different from Gauri Lankesh?

First Published 21, Sep 2017, 4:34 PM IST
No outrage no debate was Shantanu Bhowmick any different from Gauri Lankesh
  • The media is mum over journalist Shantanu Bhowmick's death, unlike Gauri Lankesh's murder.
  • Shantanu Bhowmick was dragged by the mob and killed with sharp cutting weapons by miscreants in the violence he was covering.
  • He was a political reporter in a regional channel in Agartala.

It may not outrightly seem to be a case of pre-planned murder, but it did happen. A political reporter- Shantanu Bhowmick breathed his last while reporting a political unrest in Agartala. He was dragged by the warring crowd and beaten brutally with sticks as he was reporting the violence.

While many from the state police were also injured in the clashes between the supporters of the IPFT and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in the Khowai, Teliamura and Jirania subdivisions, investigators smell foul because of a second version that has emerged. It is said that miscreants owing allegiance to the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura abducted him and attacked him with sharp cutting weapons. It is said that the IPFT is demanding a separate tribal State called Tipraland.

While this has sent shockwaves across the country, it is to be noted that the death comes just a fortnight after the brutal murder of Karnataka reporter Gauri Lankesh. Apart from the journalist angle what links the two cases is the fact that the miscreants are still at large in both the cases. While Police is still looking for cues in the death of Lankesh,
investigators have detained four people on suspicio, but no arrests have been made. 

Having said that, what irks the Indian media circuit more is the fact that while Lankesh's story has made national news and has been made into a sensational case, calling for the intervention of the CM of Karnataka and the Congress party, Shantanu's death was taken silently. Despite dharnas and protests by the local media, no one from national or even state politics is showing any interest in the case.

Why is that so? Just because, Gauri Lankesh was a celebrity in State politics and Bhowmick was a newbee? Or does it have other political interests? There could be many reasons why the two cases are being treated differently.

  • One, Gauri had inside information of the higher echelons of the political circuit. Therefore, more the interest shown in the case, the better chances of hushing up secrets.
  • Gauri's murder was a planned assault, which must be having its own agenda and motif. Whereas Bhowmick's murder seemed to be more spontaneous and was apparently the outcome of rage.
  • Gauri was an against the right wing rule, which could mean that either her political inclination killed her or her death was being used as a tool in politics. However, nothing of this sort can be attached with Bhowmick's death.

All said and done, a budding journalist, equally important in the media circuit is gone and nobody let a cry out, indicating how we have trained ourselves to respond selectively when it comes to such crimes. Incidentally, the journalist's death brings the number of reporters killed in India since the early 1990s to 29, as cited by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

According to a 2015 report by the Reporters Without Borders, India was ranked the deadliest country in Asia for journalists, even though most deaths occurred in remote areas away from the urban areas.