When ABP news could have avoided embarrassment by reading its own newspaper

Septic tanks have become the new thing in the former communist bastion of Tripura, after Sunil Deodhar, the BJP’s state in-charge, asked new Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb to get all the septic tanks in the ministers’ quarters cleaned.

The reason given for the same was that, in January 2005, a woman’s skeleton was found in the septic tank of then CM Manik Sarkar’s quarter. He also claimed that the case had been suppressed. As per media reports from that time, the claim appears to be true.

Media reports from 2005 indicate that skeletal remains including the skull and nine bones of the shin, forearms and ribs were found in a tank connected to a toilet close to the house meant for security personnel and other members of the then Chief Minister’s staff, inside the CM’s official residence. The discovery was made when the tank was being cleaned by workers of the Agartala Municipal Council.

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ABP News though had a totally different approach to the whole saga, as was caught by OpIndia columnist Sujoy Ghosh.

While running a report on the matter, the news anchor asked for a sound-bite from their correspondent. The correspondent though took a strange line, as seen in the video below:

The correspondent is heard as claiming that Deodhar has levelled very serious allegations, though as per him, the truth regarding the matter could only be ascertained post a probe. He then took a different trajectory by claiming that BJP leaders have been making strange claims in the past few days regarding the “statue controversy” which weren’t based on facts. He thus again reiterated that one should wait for a probe in this matter before drawing conclusions due to Manik Sarkar’s clean image.

This narrative though was odd on two accounts.

  1. It was strange to note that, ABP news was referring to Deodhar’s statement as a mere allegation, considering a popular newspaper named “The Telegraph”, which currently is part of the ABP group, had carried a story in January 2005, titled, “Woman’s skeleton in CM’s house”. Here the newspaper factually reported the incident, without hinting that it was based on any sort of “allegations”.
  2. Secondly, as per the same report, an under pressure Manik Sarkar had indeed constituted a CID probe in this matter after consulting with the left front and police officials. Hence ABP news’ assertion that one should wait for a probe doesn’t make much sense as, going by their group’s newspaper a probe was ordered by the none other than former CM Manik Sarkar.

Interestingly, as per latest reports, since Deodhar’s tweet, the Director-General of Police Akhil Kumar Shukla is reported to have said that they would now try to “ascertain” the progress CID made in its investigation. The report claimed that CID had failed to make much headway regarding the probe.

Forensic tests conducted had concluded that the skeleton was of a girl aged between 13 and 17 years. A possible sketch of the girl was also made and released in the media, but it elicited no response. Manik Sarkar in 2010 had defended himself in this matter, by alleging that the skeleton was dumped in the septic tank for no reason.

Considering the amount of mystery and uncertainty involved in this matter, it remains to be seen how seriously the police pursues the matter now, with there being no CPM government in the state anymore.

However, it is clear that the incident is not any wild allegation by a BJP leader as the ABP correspondent tried to suggest. Least he could have done is to read a newspaper of his own group.

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