The Press Club of India on Tuesday criticised the Tripura Police’s action against two journalists who were covering the anti-Muslim violence in the state and demanded that the cases filed against them be dropped, PTI reported.

Samriddhi Sakunia and Swarna Jha, who work for news channel HW News, had been arrested on Monday on charges of spreading communal disharmony. They were granted bail by a court later in the day.

The journalists have been booked in two police cases in Tripura. One of them was filed at the Fatikroy police station in North Tripura on Saturday while the other was registered at Kakrban in Gomati district on Sunday.

The complainant in the Fatikroy case, a man named Kanchan Das, alleged that Sakunia and Jha had made an “instigating speech while visiting people from the Muslim community” in the Unakoti district’s Paul Bazaar area.

The other complaint, filed by the police on their own, accused the journalists of “creating hatred between religious groups by fabrication, concealing documents”.

The statement pointed to a video tweeted by Sakunia on November 11. The video records her visit to Darga Bazaar in Kakraban and appears to show the interiors of a burnt mosque. At one point in the video, she pointed to burnt pages lying on the ground, and said “people say that this is Quran”.

The Tripura Police claimed that the video was contradictory to its investigation and even suggested that it may have been doctored.

Several press organisations have come out in support of the journalists. The Press Club of India condemned their detention and harassment on Tuesday.

“The Press Club of India demands that the cases be dropped and the media be allowed to carry out their duty independently,” a statement from the club said.

The organisation also drew the National Human Rights Commission’s attention to the matter.

“The PCI [Press Club of India] urges the NHRC [National Human Rights Commission] to take cognisance of the human rights violation by Tripura police in detaining both reporters till night in the police station, as law ordains that police can’t keep a woman detained in police station beyond 6 pm,” it said.

The club highlighted that this was not the first time journalists faced harassment by the Tripura Police. “Journalist Shyam Meera Singh was booked under the UAPA [Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act] for reporting on the disturbing incidents unfolding in Tripura,” it said.

Reports of communal violence had emerging from Tripura last month. Activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had allegedly vandalised a mosque and properties of Muslims in North Tripura during a protest against the anti-Hindu violence in Bangladesh earlier that month. The police claimed that no mosque had been burnt in the district.