Agartala, Feb 08: The Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) on Wednesday underwent a 12 hour-long strike called by All Tripura Indigenous Regional Parties Forum, a joint body of regional tribal political parties of the state amidst pitched violence in patches.
According to latest reports, over 100 were injured in different areas of ADC during the clashes. Fourteen among them were learnt to be critical; all of them were rushed to different district headquarters for treatment wherefrom they were further referred to GBP Hospital in Agartala.
Asked about the latest situation till 10:30 PM tonight, DIG of Tripura Police Uttam Bhowmik said that there were no reports of casualties from the clashes from any part of the state. Over 3,400 people were arrested from across Tripura. A total of 27 persons were injured in the brawls, Bhowmik said adding that 11 among them were learnt to be in critical condition. The figures rose over the night.
The violent clashes that resulted in near-death of one Nripendra Tripura in Gandacherra sub-division has revealed the deeply rooted ethnic fault lines that still exist between the different communities of Tripura. Nripendra sustained severe injuries with multiple fractures on his skull. His elder brother Matiram Tripura told TNT that the patient was being taken for CT scan.
While the strike was called against the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill moved by ruling BJP-led NDA government in the Parliament, its observance actually showed a quite different dimension in the politics of ethnicity in this small hilly state.
Veteran tribal leader, IPFT supremo and convenor of the ATIRPF N.C. Debbarma today claimed that the strike was a big success for those struggling with demands of true development of Tripura’s indigenous populace.
Addressing a media briefing at Agartala Press Club after the strike concluded at 6 PM this evening, Debbarma said that the strike was successful though with a minor share of undesired violence. “The strike was 95 percent peaceful”, he claimed.
In an attempt to scale down impact of the incidents of violence, he said that the ruling party had deployed its organizational strength in the hilly terrains against the strike. The IPFT supremo squarely blamed Gana Mukti Parishad (GMP) for putting up resistance against the democratic movement of the ATIRPF.
The Gana Mukti Parishad is an erstwhile armed pro-communist tribal group that tried to create a Communist state out of Tripura right after it merged with the Indian Union in 1949.
IPFT general secretary and Joint Convenor of the Forum – Jagadish Debbarma echoed in a similar tune and said that the communists misdirected their attack on their supporters. “Our movement wasn’t against the left front. It was against the central government’s policy. The communists have opposed the Bill in the Parliament but they are opposing us in the streets”, Jagadish said adding that the lefts have exposed their double standard in terms of sympathy to tribal rights.
NCT supremo Animesh Debbarma too said that CPI (M) and other
left-minded organizations tried to disrupt the democratic movement of ATIRPF.
Later this evening, CPI (M) state secretary Bijan Dhar said in a press statement that the Forum tried to create anarchy in the name of strike in ADC areas. He added that the strike fell through everywhere in the state as people denied to support the picketers.
There were widespread disturbances in areas like Machli, Gandacherra, Sonai where supporters of the strike ravaged shops of common traders in local marketplaces, CPI (M) said in the statement.
Identifying the strike as a move to destabilize the communists from power in the coming 2018 state legislative assembly election, the party has said that the ATIRPF was maintaining shadow links with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Asked about his reaction, rebel-turned INPT leader and former MLA Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl said that the clashes occurred due to CPI (M)’s disturbances. “They (communists) tried to attack our peaceful supporters. There were many severely injured in Manu, Gandacherra and other areas. We severely condemn such a barbaric and organized attack”, Hrangkhawl said. He declined that the clashes were outcome of ethnic discord between different communities in Tripura and claimed that the attacks were made on political lines.
However, the strike in TTAADC on February 08 has been an eye opener for many.
For starters, participation of folks in the strike at ADC areas of Sonamura sub-division was next to nil, despite all persuasions of the tribal leaders.
Sonamura, being a predominantly Muslim populated area, invariably differed with the interest of the strike. People from both tribal and non-tribal backgrounds in the segment were largely indifferent to the movement.
Muslims comprise around 9-10 percent of the state’s population and are, hence, a determinant population in the state’s electoral politics. Their strategic denial to join the movement of the united forum of tribal leadership indicate a disconnect with the interest of the leaders and those of the masses, perhaps because the typical interests of the minority voters didn’t find any place in the agenda of tribal regional parties, nor in those of the BJP or Congress. The inevitable outcome would be that the minority votes would gravitate to the communist camp.
The business community, even those from different tribal sections in Krishnanagar area of Agartala city, straightaway denied to express sympathy towards the strike today. On the other hand, Khumulwng, barely 27 Km away from Agartala, saw a lot more support for the strike. This indicates that location held more interest for the strike supporters than interest itself.
The State was successful in curbing the strike in tribal areas with a cumulative arrest quantum of over 3,400 as confirmed by DIG Uttam Bhowmik. The cops resorted to repressive tactics at places to bring aggressive picketers under control.
On the flip side, the strike received normal response in the non-tribal areas with nearly no sympathy from the local inhabitants.
The so-called concept of peace and harmony among tribal and non-tribal communities didn’t go down well with the ethnic communities over the last few decades. Demands of separate statehood entities were for the interest of the indigenous populace, which didn’t sync with expectations of the general community. Today’s strike has only proven once again that the ethnic divide is yet to be bridged completely, more so due to the double standards of the ruling communist government in the state.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 was first introduced in Lok Sabha on July 19. The Bill was listed for consideration to pass in the Parliament Winter session that started from November 16.
The Bill seeks refuge and rights to persecuted minorities who have intruded India from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan on or before 2014.
Source: The North East Today