Agartala: A mosque was vandalised and shops and houses were attacked in the Panisagar sub-division of North Tripura district during a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) rally on Tuesday afternoon.
Speaking with The Wire, additional inspector general (AIG) of police (law and order) Subrata Chakraborty said that a mosque was ransacked and a few shops and houses were vandalised during in Chamtila and Rowa Bazar areas under the Panisagar sub-division.
While the rally was ostensibly a protest against communal violence in Bangladesh, the scenes witnessed in the northeastern state were starkly reminiscent of the violence itself.
“Some miscreants attacked a small mosque, some shops and some houses during the VHP rally. These shops and houses reportedly belong to families from the minority community. We have deployed an adequate number of police officers to maintain law and order. The incident took place near Chamtila and Rowa bazaar area. We have registered a case,” Chakraborty said.
He also said that heavy security has been deployed in all sensitive areas in the vicinity to avoid further deterioration of the situation.
The Wire tried to contact the Tripura State Jamiat Ulama president Mufti Tayebur Rahman for his comment, but he was unavailable.
A video showing the vandalism has gone viral on social media and people who were part of the rally could be heard chanting “Tripura me Mullagiri nahi chalega, nahi chalega” and “Oh Mohammad tera baap, Hare Krishna Hare Ram”.
A senior police official has confirmed to The Wire that the video recording was of a rally held somewhere else, not in Panisagar.
“We have registered a case. Some members of the minority community registered a case against some unknown VHP workers. They [VHP workers] chanted some provocative slogans during the rallies. We are investigating the matter and collecting all video footage,” the senior police officials said on condition of anonymity.
Section 144 imposed
He added that section 144 of the code of criminal procedure (CrPC), which prohibits the congregation of more than five people, was also clamped in the Panisagar sub-division.
The police officer has said that so far, no one has been arrested.
The Dharmanagar sub-divisional magistrate Kamales Dhar also clamped section 144 of the CrPC.
In the order copy, Dhar said, “As received instruction from the higher authority a strong apprehension of breach of peace and public tranquillity in Dharmanagar sub-division….it necessary to impose certain restrictions on movement of people in Dharmanagar sub-division… until further order.”
Earlier, on October 25, Tripura director general of police (DGP) V.S. Yadav said some “unknown miscreants” tried to disrupt communal harmony in the state but that their attempts were foiled due to the deployment of police forces.
“All the mosques across the state are under security coverage. Our police officers are in the field. So far, no fresh incidents occurred in the state. A few days ago, miscreants tried to create disturbance but due to police patrolling they couldn’t. Some miscreants are taking advantage of the situation to disrupt communal harmony and malign the government,” Yadav had told The Wire.
Shekhar Datta, a veteran journalist, said some “miscreants” are trying to disrupt peace in the state using these rallies but denied that the attacks were a form of religious violence. He, however, said some people are trying to show their power by using the violence in Bangladesh as an excuse.
Opposition parties demand action
The opposition CPI(Marxist) state secretariat body has condemned the violence and demanded the arrest of the culprits.
In a press statement, the CPI(M) said a procession was organised in the Panisagar sub-division by the VHP. The procession went to the Rowa area and turned violent. Several shops were vandalised and set on fire. In addition, some houses were attacked. “As a result, some small businesses that rely on these stores have suffered greatly. This has created a worrying situation in the area. Locals alleged the violent attack took place in front of police,” the statement said.
In a video purportedly from Tripura, police officers in riot gear can be seen as some buildings are ablaze. The Wire has not been able to verify the location where the video was shot.
The party also demanded that the government should provide assistance to the affected shopkeepers and families.
The opposition also urged the police and the administration to take appropriate measures to prevent such provocative and disruptive acts.
A demonstration was also held by the newly floated Tripura Democratic Front. The party held a dharna in front of the office of the police headquarters and demanded to provide protection to the minorities in Tripura.
BJP smells conspiracy
BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya claimed there was a political conspiracy behind the incident. “VHP is a social organisation and they took permission before holding the rally. I believe there was a political conspiracy behind the incident to malign the name of the government and to disrupt the peace and tranquillity of the state. We want peace. We are demanding strict action against the culprits,” Bhattacharya said.
The VHP also took a similar stance, with the organisation’s North district president Nani Gopal Debnath claiming that the mosque, shops and houses were attacked by a section of people from the minority community.