June 13, 2021

Tripura: Resisting BJP Violence to Reclaim Democratic Rights

Haripada Das

DESPOTIC attacks on democratic rights and the right to protect individual lives and properties have been going on unabated in the BJP-ruled Tripura.

* Leader of the Opposition Manik Sarkar, accompanied by party leaders, was prevented from a scheduled visit to Santirbazar on May 10.
* A blood donation camp organised by Left youth at Khowai on May 12 was stopped.
* Large scale ransacking and looting of at least 19 houses of CPI(M) leaders and workers at Badharghat under Agartala Municipal Corporation on May 29 and 30.

* Even Jharna Das Baidya, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), was prevented by ruling party goondas from visiting the houses of persecuted people.
* There have been a series of attacks on the People’s Relief Volunteers throughout the state while they were rendering service to the coronavirus patients confined in home isolation having no helping hand and badly in need of oxygen, medicines, food, etc.
* Cabinet minister Manoj Deb spearheaded an attack on the 15 houses of CPI(M) leaders and workers at Kamalpur.
* Demolition of the martyr column of Soumendra Sutradhar who sacrificed his life and succumbed to police firing during the food movement in 1967.

* The CPI(M) Kamalpur local committee office at Kamalpur town was locked and occupied by BJP goons.

All these attacks were carried out in broad day light violating the covid-induced curfew by gangs of BJP miscreants and in Kamalpur this attack was launched with direct instructions and presence of a minister who was surrounded by a huge posse of personal guards. Though most of these incidents took place in front of the police, not a single FIR was registered by them nor was any of the perpetrators arrested, as they carry a label of BJP supporters. After the Santirbazar incident, a CPI(M) delegation met the governor of the state on May 12 and apprised him about the partisan role of the police and the deteriorating law and order situation. The governor assured the delegation that no political violation would take place from next day onwards. Again on May 31, Jharna Das Baidya met the governor to apprise him of the events at Badharghat on May 29-30 and to remind him of his assurance given to the CPI(M) delegation on May 12.

The governor, while expressing regret for failure to keep his word, again assured Baidya that he would try his level best to stop this unending political violence in the state which is not at all tenable in a democratic country.

Under such a terrible situation in the state, CPI(M) state committee member and MLA Bhanulal Saha made a Facebook post on May 30 calling upon the people to “unitedly resist the attackers coming from outside with petrol bombs and sticks and combat them with whichever domestic articles you have near to hand to save your lives and properties. To take domestic articles in self-defense is not a crime. Resistance is the only way to protect your lives and properties. Have courage to resist the lumpen, ruling party goondas by mobilising the people of the area”.

Bijan Dhar and Jitendra Chowdhury, both Central Committee members of the Party, also made separate Facebook posts in support of the post made by Bhanulal Saha. Bijan Dhar in his post broadly supported the call of Saha and cited the unprovoked cowardly attacks carried on by the ruling BJP miscreants on the selective houses of CPI(M) leaders and workers at Badharghat in May. Jitendra Chowdhury in support of this post called upon the Party workers to fight back instead of being victims of onslaughts.

Now, a debate is going on in the Tripura media, both print and electronic, over the posts uploaded by three leaders of the Party. While the BJP’s pet media is criticising the posts, most of the independent media blame prevailing lawlessness in the state that necessitated such posts. 

These Facebook posts triggered frightening reaction from the ruling BJP. Immediately, they came down condemning these posts, alleging that these are aimed at creating unrest and would create breach of peace in the state. The BJP leaders instructed their supporters to lodge FIR against the CPI(M) leaders who uploaded these posts, in several police stations and directed the police officials to take cognizance of the complaints and summon the leaders for interrogation. Till now, FIRs have been lodged in 14 police stations of the state. Accordingly, Bhanulal Saha appeared in three police stations to face interrogation.  Jitendra Chowdhury and Bijan Dhar appeared in one police station on different dates. All the leaders resolutely defended their stand expressed in the FB posts citing innumerable instances of failure of the police to act against hateful provocative speeches of the several BJP leaders, including the chief minister, inciting their followers to unleash attacks on the opposition.  The leaders categorically explained the perspective of this call. They said the right to self-defense is an inherent right for every individual and it is incorporated in law. Certainly, these rules have ample scope to be misused. In spite of that, in the present tyrannical fascistic reign in Tripura, it is imperative to remind down-trodden people about their right to survive. We have just reminded the people about this right of theirs, the leaders said.

They said, “we have made this call at a moment when the police administration has been made a one-eyed deer, law and order in the state had totally collapsed, the safety of lives and properties of the common people are at the mercy of some gangs of criminals belonging to ruling BJP and particularly, when the government has blocked all the avenues right from sub-divisional police authority to the governor of the state to get redress by the common people.”

Secondly, the fury of the BJP hooligans though initially targeted against the communists, has been widened to doctors, para-medics, nurses, newsmen, advocates, intellectuals, to whoever expresses a dissent against the mal-performance of the government either in respect of implementation of their pledges made during the assembly election or regarding the worst and inhuman Covid crisis management.  In a word, the entire state is suffocating. 

Lastly, the CPI(M) leaders said we have asked the people not to attack anybody, but if attacked, instead of being an innocent victim, protect yourself unitedly mobilising your neighbours with whatever domestic articles you have at hand to resist the attackers. And this is the only way to survive as the hands of the law enforcing forces are tied at the moment. Right to self-defense is an inherent right which nobody can snatch away.

A remarkable change in the situation has been noticed following these posts. The determined CPI(M) leaders and workers of Kamalpur, in a deputation met the police authorities of Kamalpur PS and demanded immediate legal action against the perpetrators including the minister who led the attack on June 6. They also took back the CPI(M) Kamalpur local committee office next morning. At Radhanagar of Belonia sub-division, South Tripura, the BJP goons were physically resisted by the villagers and the goondas had to run away leaving one of their bikes and other weapons.