Tripura: Tit-for-tat communal violence grips northeastern Indian state

·3-min read
Supporters of a Hindu group take part in a demonstration in Ahmedabad, Gujarat to protest the violence in Bangladesh earlier this month  (AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of a Hindu group take part in a demonstration in Ahmedabad, Gujarat to protest the violence in Bangladesh earlier this month (AFP via Getty Images)

Communal violence gripped India’s northeastern state of Tripura in the wake of similar violence in the neighbouring country of Bangladesh, which broke out during Hindu festivities earlier this month, according to reports.

Several mosques and Muslim homes have been vandalised in North Tripura district over the past week, local media reported. Since then, the nine per cent minority Muslim population in Tripura has been living in fear, the reports said.

On Tuesday, a mosque, houses and shops were vandalised in Panisagar, located 155km from state capital Agartala, during a rally by a hardline Hindu group, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). The VHP is an umbrella group of Hindu outfits and is an ally of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The VHP members had taken out a rally to protest against the anti-Hindu violence in Bangladesh, when protesters attacked a mosque and torched houses in Chamtilla area, media reports said.

Additional inspector general Subrata Chakraborty said some “miscreants” attacked a small mosque and houses belonging to the minority community during the VHP rally. He added that security has since been beefed up and prohibitory orders are in place in Panisagar.

The police have provided additional protection to at least 150 mosques in the state, officials said.

Although authorities in Tripura claimed that the law and order situation had returned to normal, the Muslim organisation Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind alleged that mobs attacked multiple mosques and targeted Muslim neighbourhoods.

Some reports have alleged that there were at least 19 incidents of attacks across five districts of Tripura. But there is no official confirmation yet.

The state police said in a tweet on Wednesday that “the law and order situation in the state is absolutely normal” and warned people against spreading rumours.

“We have already registered cases and legal action will be taken against all those spreading fake news and communally sensitive rumours,” the police said.

The small state of Tripura, with a population of roughly 4.2 million, is surrounded by Bangladesh on three sides.

The arson and other violent attacks in the past week were considered a retaliatory attack for the brutal attacks against minority Hindus in Bangladesh. At least seven persons were killed, temples desecrated and houses belonging to the Hindu community were vandalised during the Durga Puja festivities after a rumour that the Quran was insulted.

Opposition parties in India condemned the attacks and accused the BJP of orchestrating the violence against minorities. The BJP came to office in Tripura in 2018 after 25 years of Communist rule. Political experts believe that religious fault lines have become sharper since then due to right wing politics.

“These things are being orchestrated by the BJP. Tripura is known for communal peace and harmony. The state government should make sure communal harmony and peace is maintained here,” Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Pabitra Kar told The Indian Express.

Pradyot Manikya, a politician and head of the state’s royal family, said in a tweet that seeing the violence against minorities was “perhaps one of the most shameful chapters in my political life.”

“I don’t see any logical reason for such retaliation to what is happening in Bangladesh,” he added.

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