September 19, 2021

Tripura: Black 8th September Ferocity: How and Why?

Haripada Das

THE sensible, peace-loving and democratic-minded people of the entire country got thunderstruck to see the fangs of ferocity that the BJP’s organised gangs exhibited in Tripura on September 8, 2021.
In broad daylight on that day, 43 offices of the Left parties, mostly of the CPI(M) including its state committee, have been raided, ransacked, looted and set on fire by the organised gangs of the ruling BJP. All the offices were spread over five out of eight districts of the state. Apart from the CPI(M) and one RSP office, the BJP miscreants carried on heinous attacks on the offices of two TV channels and two newspapers which were generally known to be critical of the policies pursued by the BJP-led government. Several cars, many bikes parked before the Party offices and the media houses were burnt. Anti-communist desperation crossed all limit to demolish at least four CPI(M) offices using bulldozers in broad daylight and in the presence of police. Besides attacks on Party offices, about a hundred houses of the Left leaders, cadres and common sympathisers were either torched, ransacked or looted. In one such attack on the house of an SFI leader in Longthorai Valley in Dhalai district, the SFI leader’s father Amalesh Das died of heart attack. Many Left cadres were physically assaulted causing severe injury to a good number of them. 

Such wide-range desperate attacks did occur spontaneously out of popular rage.  Rather this was a well-planned demolition drive hatched up by the state BJP centre. The participants of BJP’s Yuva Morcha procession in Agartala from where the CPI(M) and media offices were stormed, were seen carrying sack-full of bricks and stone-chips. Some had firearms and iron rods in their hands. Thick bamboo sticks were carried with flags quite inappropriate to the size of later. All along they shouted provocative slogans against Manik Sarkar and the CPI(M) in particular. Anybody who witnessed their violent gesture was able to apprehend that they would do serious mischief that day. And it did happen.

Such a mayhem would not have taken place had there been no complicity of the state government. The violent BJP procession was escorted by police from both front and rear. But they did not intervene when some of the irate demonstrators had forced into the CPI(M) West Tripura district committee office. Even the attack on the Party state committee office and PB-24 Channel office was committed in the presence of an officer of the West Agartala PS who just remained an onlooker to the violent scene.

A contingent of CRPF jawans were deputed in front of CPI(M) state committee office from morning. Till now, there is no explanation why this contingent was withdrawn just one hour before the attack took place. While destruction in the CPI(M) state committee office was going on, several Party leaders including the leader of opposition were frantically trying to contact the higher police officials. But none of them responded to his calls.

The central fire station is located just a furlong away from the Party state committee office. The fire station was contacted in time. But the firemen could not move because of the road blockade created by the BJP demonstrators. After 45 minutes, when the firemen from another fire station from a distant place at Badharghat did appear, they only doused fire from already burnt cars and bikes.

Surprisingly, after coming back to the state from outside on September 9, the chief minister on a social media post expressed regret for attack on media houses as if except the attack on media houses nothing happened in the state. He scrupulously remained silent on the large-scale attacks on the CPI(M) offices throughout the state. His silence on attack on CPI(M) and Left party offices more expressly indicates his connivance with this anti-communist backlash.

Next day, in another tweet, instead of condemning the attacks on opposition party offices, chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb ridiculously claimed that peaceful atmosphere prevailed in the state since March 2018 and blamed the CPI(M) for creating breach in this peace.  He threatened CPI(M) that such violence would not be tolerated by the people.

Peace that the chief minister referred to in his official tweet, is nothing but the peace in the graveyard of democracy.  There is not a single CPI(M) office in the state which was not attacked, vandalised or set on fire by the BJP goons during the last three and a half years. Some of the offices have been attacked seven-eight times. No less than 21 comrades have been killed during the BJP regime but the police neither initiated any investigation nor arrested any of the assassins.  One district committee office, three sub-divisional committee offices are still closed due to unabated terror. Houses of thousands of Left leaders, cadres and sympathizers were burnt to ashes, ransacked, looted and similar number of the Left activists were physically assaulted, many grievously. Several assembly constituencies have been converted into prohibited zone for the MLAs representing the constituency. Manik Sarkar, leader of opposition and former chief minister of the state for 20 years could not attend his scheduled programme in no less than 10 occasions due to road blockade organised by the BJP.  Many police stations are converted into gossip centres of the perpetrators. Naturally hundreds of victims did not dare to register an FIR against the BJP miscreants.

Following are the number of attacks from March 3, 2018 to June 30, 2021 in three different categories.
Attack on Party and mass organisation offices
1.     No. of offices gutted                          166
2.     No. of offices ransacked, looted          382
3.     No. of offices occupied                         87
4.     No. of offices put under lock                 74
Attack on houses and occupations of the Left activists
1.     No. of houses set on fire                       202
2.     No. of houses attacked                       1287
3.     No. of houses ransacked, looted          1874
4.     No. of shops gutted                               201
5.     No. of shops ransacked, looted              458
6.     No. of poultry/piggery looted                  60
7.     No. of rubber plantations cut
             down or gutted                                74
Physical attacks on individuals
1.     No. of Left leaders, cadres killed            21
2.     Total No. of physical attacks              2967
3.     Among them men victims                   2705
4.     Among them women victims                262
5.     Hospitalised                                         472

In glorifying the BJP regime led by him, the chief minister often termed the 25 years of Left Front rule as ‘black’ regime. Though more than three and a half years have passed, till now not a single new project undertaken by this government could be inaugurated. While inaugurating the projects initiated by the Left Front government, the chief minister does not feel ashamed to blame the Left Front government for its non-performance. In some cases, the foundation stones laid down by the ministers of Left Front government were removed prior to inauguration.   
Needless to elaborate, the achievements of Manik Sarkar led Left Front government’s 20 years rule acquired nationwide appreciation for good governance.  In contrast to the present regime, nobody can cite a single instance of attack on any of the opposition party offices by then ruling party activists. Nor was any there any incident of political vendetta. There was not a single instance where movement of opposition leaders was prevented out of political enmity. The police were given opportunity to act independently in true sense. Unlike the present chief minister, who openly threatens the opposition parties, particularly the CPI(M) that they would be eliminated forever, Manik Sarkar, the then chief minister always sought cooperation from all parties and sections of the people for advancement of the state. 

The people are more and more getting aggrieved against the government for its total non-performance. Corruption is rampant in every part of the government administration.  Mafias are now dominating power, parallel to the administration. In rural areas, both hills and planes, there prevails acute crisis of food and work. The hardship of village people reached worst extent particularly during the Covid lockdowns. The CPI(M) and the Left Front were repeatedly demanding adequate monetary relief for the non-tax paying families during the pandemic which the government just ignored. The economic crisis suffered by the people percolated to the trade and business causing dissatisfaction among the business community over the government. The youth of the state are coming down to streets raising the slogan, ‘Where is my job?’ Once a power-surplus state, Tripura has been reeling under darkness.  In rural areas power supply remains disrupted continuously for five-six days. The employees’ community felt from the beginning that they have been fooled and cheated in the name of Seventh Central Pay Commission.

The Left parties, particularly the CPI(M) being the largest opposition party in the state, have been trying to consolidate the people’s resentment and channelise this popular anger in a democratic manner. For the last one month, block level deputations with urgent local issues, and, youth demonstrations with the slogan ‘where is my job’, were going on. Gradually, people in greater numbers were joining in these programmes. This enraged the ruling circle. They thought that, as the Party offices are the only place for making contact with the people, these must be struck down to detach them from the people. Hence this state-sponsored political violence on the opposition party offices on September 8th.

The ruling parties should keep in mind that, CPI(M) shall continue to organise the people and consolidate the mass anger as they have been doing so long.  The destruction they have unleashed, would only embolden the determination to fight back the tyrannous rule.