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New Delhi: The Congress and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) on Thursday condemned the killing of Tripura-based journalist Santanu Bhowmick, seeking harsh punishment for the culprits.

The CPI-M blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the killing, while the Congress stated that journalists, who continuously fight in the quest for truth, are under brutal attack by the dispensation of the state and the Centre.

"The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) strongly condemns the murder of progressive journalist Santanu Bhowmick by BJP-backed IPTF miscreants in Tripura," said a party statement.

"On the heels of the murder of Gauri Lankesh has come yet another killing of a progressive journalist. There is a clear pattern in this employed by the RSS-BJP, particularly in the states were elections are due, of silencing progressive journalists and (blocking) dissemination of truth... The party demands the culprits be brought to book immediately," said the statement.

Speaking to the media, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said: "INC condemns it in the strongest possible way. Violence has no place in the society. Journalists, who continuously fight with the quest for truth, are under brutal attack either by the dispensation of the state or the Centre."

"Multiple journalists have been killed in three years and attacked nearly 145 times. The only way to ensure justice is that the guilty be caught and punished within a time frame," said Surjewala.

Bhowmick was hacked to death on Wednesday while covering clashes that broke out between CPI-M's tribal wing Tripura Rajya Upajati Ganamukti Parishad workers and the cadres of the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura, a tribal-based opposition party, in Tripura.

Various media groups also dubbed the brutal death of the journalist as an attack on their freedom of speech and demanded appropriate compensation for his family.

"It is a reckless, inhuman act to silence the voice of free press in the country and an assault on the freedom of press. We demand an impartial and swift probe into the murder of the young Tripura journalist, so that culprits can be booked and brought to justice," said a joint statement of the Press Council of India, Indian Women's Press Corps, Federation of Press Clubs in India and the North-East Media Forum.

In the wake of the incident, the Delhi Union of Journalists has raised the demand for "risk insurance" to cover the dangers -- physical and loss of livelihood -- unique to the profession of journalism.

Bracketing the murder with a series of attacks on scribes, including the one on Gauri Lankesh, South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) said that the matter was much above the freedom of speech or expression -- one of "right to life and liberty, the most fundamental of all rights".

The Editors' Guild of India demanded that the central government take cognisance of the "series of attacks" on journalists and ensure their safety.

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