ONE and a half months have passed since the BJP-IPFT (Indigenous People's Front of Tripura) coalition government has assumed office in Tripura and the attacks on the Left front workers and supporters continue in full swing in the state.
On May 7, the state police imposed Section 144 and cordoned up the entire old motor stand areas by the paramilitary forces in Agartala. Several JCB machines were used to bulldoze the offices of the Tripura Motor Shramik Union (TMSU) which were occupied by the BJP workers after declaration of the election result.
This office was established by the motor workers in 1972. Even during the Emergency period, this office remained untouched. Offices of INTUC-sponsored motor workers in the same area were also wiped away.
On May 8 similar drive for demolition was carried out at GB Market area of the city where a CPI(M) office was removed.
As anticipated by Bijan Dhar, state secretary of CPI(M), the state government headed by Biplab Kumar Dev, is enforcing strict authoritarian measures in an attempt to silence the voice of dissent and thereby strangulate the democratic system.
Apart from indulging in numerous physical attacks, the perpetrators are continuing to attack, vandalise and loot the houses of the Left Front supporters, especially of the CPI(M) in rural and urban areas alike.
Hundreds of small traders, vehicle owners and drivers who are supporters of the Left are not being allowed to carry on with their businesses. Offices of the CPI(M) and mass organisations, mostly of the CITU, are being forcibly occupied, ransacked, looted, and set on fire across the state.
It is to be noted that the police have chosen to stay indifferent to the attacks and not a single attacker has been booked, them being followers of the BJP.
Though it was initially thought that the attacks would subside as the euphoria of victory ends, the frequent occurrence of the incidents only indicate that the reign of terror is here to stay for a long period, said Bijan Dhar at a press meet held on May 6.
ATTACKS ON ELECTED LOCAL BODIES
Elected members of various local bodies including gram panchayat, panchayat samities, zilla parishad, nagar panchayats and village committees under The Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) which are mostly run by the Left Front, have faced the most despotic attacks. Pradhans, chairmen and members of these bodies are pressured to either surrender to the BJP or resign. Chairman of Udaipur Municipal Council was physically assaulted in his office twice by BJP miscreants and chairman of south Tripura zilla parishad was compelled to sign his resignation letter in his office chambers and was severely beaten up.
As a result of the spread of terror, most of the local bodies have become crippled, lost authority to take decisions on development projects or prepare the beneficiary list of any government scheme. The effect is directly felt on the MNREGA works and all block-level development works have halted, hitting the livelihood of the people for the last two/three months.
The assault on workers celebrating May Day is unprecedented in the state. In Dharmanagar, the dais for May Day rally organized by the CPI(M) was demolished. Party leaders were attacked by the BJP goons inside the police station when they had gone to lodge complaints. Party leaders had to be escorted by the police to their houses. Similar attacks were reported in Agartala city and Dukli, Amarpur, Teliamura, Kumarghat etc Sub-Divisions.
On March 5, BJP hoodlums also struck CPI(ML) members in Udaipur for taking out a procession to observe the bi-centenary of Karl Marx, forcing them to abandon the programme.
Citing these attacks, Bijan Dhar pointed that it’s not some insane youths that are carrying on attacks without realizing what they are doing and that it is a political decision of the BJP-IPFT government. The attacks have begun with the demolition of Lenin’s statue in Belonia, immediately after their assuming the office.
ATTEMPT TO ASSIMILATE ‘KOK BOROK’
Severely reacting to the proposal mooted by the ICA department, government of Tripura, directing the local channels to introduce Hindi news slots replacing ‘Kok Borok’ news slots, Bijan Dhar said, ‘Kok Borok’ is a language of major tribal communities of the state.
Bijan Dhar narrated the role of the Left Front government right from its first tenure to recognise ‘Kok Borok’ as the state language, introduction of ‘Kok Borok’ in primary level, the measures for the enrichment of the language. Now it is introduced at even university level. “We have no objection to introducing Hindi news slots in local channels, but it must not be replacing the ‘Kok Borok’ slots. Assimilation of a weak language by an advanced one does not help to strengthen nationalism,” Bijan Dhar asserted.
The state government has issued notices to opposition parties, including the CPI(M) to vacate their party offices lying in government khas land within seven days from receipt of the notice. So far 99 such notices have been received and it may rise further, a vindictive drive of the government to cripple the functioning of the opposition political parties.
The drive for eviction of these offices is tantamount to attack on the people. These plots should be either given allotment to the respective units which have been functioning since the 1970s, or provided with alternative plots, Bijan Dhar demanded.
PLIGHT OF THE WORKING PEOPLE
For last 2 to 3 months, there is no work for laborers in the rural areas and for the slum dwellers in the urban areas. Ration shops are remaining closed and viral diseases like cholera, malaria, gastro-enteritis etc., are becoming epidemic.
Houses of many have been damaged by the cyclone and the situation aggravated further due to non-functioning of elected local bodies, a result of BJP tyranny. More than three lakh beneficiaries of 33 social pension schemes are not getting their pension since several months. This collapse of the rural economy has percolated the market, said Bijan Dhar. He strongly demanded MNREGA work in the rural areas at Rs 340 per head as assured by the BJP in their election manifesto, health camps in affected tribal areas and release of the social pension immediately.
The draconian ‘Rule 5’ of the Service Conduct Act has again been applied against a government servant forcing him to join ‘Karmachari Mahasangha’, a BJP sponsored employees organisation. A women employee of fisheries department has been suspended just two days prior to her retirement for her presence in an election rally of Left Front as an audience.
Earlier Congress government would use this black rule against the leaders of the employees organisations to suppress the employee's movement. This is an instance of vengeance on the employees who don’t toe their political line, Bijan Dhar commented.
While protesting against the hike in petrol and diesel prices, Bijan Dhar also condemned the state government’s attitude to deny permission for a protest demonstration against this price hike.
May Day Obstructed in Tripura
IT was the first time in the last 25 years that observance of May Day, the International Labour Day was forcibly obstructed in Tripura.
With the BJP-IPFT government assuming office in the state, all sorts of democratic rights are being trampled. The newest of it was on May Day.
The CITU had long been organising its May Day rally in front of the Rabindra Bhavan, Agartala. But this time the police denied permission to hold the rally.
In the morning of May Day, BJP and BMS miscreants in various places of the state attacked CPI(M) and CITU workers in Amarpur, Teliamurra, Jirania, Gandachharra, Kamalpur, Dukli and Buxnagar. They prevented the CPI(M) and CITU workers from hoisting red flag.
In Agartala too, a few local committee offices were attacked as the workers tried to hoist red flag. At SBI Agartala main branch, employees had gathered to observe the day. But BMS miscreants attacked them and they couldn't hoist flag.
In Dharmanagar, the district headquarters of North Tripura district, the workers braved to hoist flag in the morning. In the afternoon, the CITU had planned to organise a procession followed by a public meeting. But before the procession reached the meeting place, the BJP goons had vandalised the venue by tearing apart festoons and breaking chairs. All these took place while the police was a mute spectator. Another set of goons obstructed the procession. They forcibly captured the office of Tripura Employees Coordination Committee (HB Road). Protesting against these incidents of vandalism, CITU north district committee held a press conference and went to the police station to lodge a complaint. But the BJP goons assembled in front of the PS. CITU leaders including Amitabha Datta (also party district secretary), were attacked inside the car provided by the police. The driver fled as the goons pelted stones and attacked with sticks.
In Khowai, the district office was gheraoed so that no one could enter to observe May Day. In Teliamurra too, the miscreants blocked road so that nobody could enter Party office. In different tea gardens, workers could not observe May Day.
Despite all these threats, intimidation and attacks in most of the subdivisions, CPI(M), CITU and workers in general, bravely observed the May Day. Hall meetings were organised in Belonia, Ambassa, Bishalgarh and other subdivisions. Processions and public meetings were organised in Kailashahar, Sabroom, Kumarghat. In Sabroom, MP Jitendra Choudhury and in Kailashahar CITU state vice president Tapan Chakraborty addressed the gathering.
In Agartala, though the police had denied permission to hold rally in front of Rabindra Bhavan, CITU organised its May Day rally in Paradise Chowmohoni. Leader of opposition, Manik Sarkar, CITU state president Manik Dey, CITU state general secretary Sankar Datta and state vice president Jaya Barman addressed thousands of people assembled there.
On May 2, CITU in a press conference vehemently protested the cowardly attacks on the working people's right to observe May Day. CITU state general secretary and MP, Sankar Prasad Datta said these incidents are unprecedented and unhealthy. They will have a direct bearing on the democratic environment of the state. The CITU shall submit a detailed report on these attacks at ILO headquarters Geneva, he said.
CITU Condemns Attack on TU Activists by BJP-RSS Goons
THE Centre of Indian Trade Unions(CITU), in a statement issued on May 4, has strongly condemned the dastardly attack by the BJP-RSS goons on the trade union activists who were trying to observe the International Labour Day ‘May Day’ in different parts of Tripura.
In almost all subdivisions of the state, especially in Dukli, Teliamura, Amarpur, Kumarghat, Jirania, CITU activists who have assembled to celebrate the May Day have been beaten up by the BJP hoodlums. Even in Agartala, trade union activists were attacked and prevented from hoisting the flag.
In the district headquarter Dharmanagar, workers and public who had gathered to observe the May Day were attacked by the BJP goons with deadly weapons. Even those who took shelter in the police station were not spared.
CITU strongly condemns the still continuing attack on its activists by the BJP goons throughout the state. These attacks show the intolerance of BJP-RSS forces against any dissent to their communal and authoritarian ideology and politics. CITU demands that the state government shall take urgent measures to curb violence being unleashed on the activists of the trade union and other democratic organisations.
CITU congratulates the working class of Tripura who had celebrated May Day throughout the state including in the capital city of Agartala daring these attacks.
CITU calls upon the democratic and progressive people of the country to protest such attacks on the democratic rights of the people of Tripura.
CITU would like to remind the BJP government of Tripura that the people of Tripura have the history of overthrowing those who used violence to capture and remain in power.