Immediately after the results of the Assembly elections were announced, a spate of attacks on CPI(M) and Left parties’ offices, houses of supporters and trade union offices began. Since then, there has been no respite in the attacks by the BJP-RSS gangs. In some areas, money was extorted from CPI(M) supporters; in some places their means of livelihood like shops were forcibly closed down and rubber plantations burnt. Elected representatives of local bodies were either forced to resign, or, join the BJP or IPFT. The attacks were followed by police raids and searches of Party offices, ostensibly to look for arms stored there.
After winning the Assembly elections with 43 percent of the vote in 2018, the Bharatiya Janata Party executed a unique modus operandi to permeate terror in the minds of the CPI(M) activists, supporters and sympathizers. One must not be unmindful of the fact that the erstwhile ruling Left front had garnered 42.7 percent of the vote. So immediately after the results were declared Tripura was rocked by the news of “child lifters” running amok in the state. Using this news shrewdly to whip up sentiments of the common man against the CPI(M) comrades, BJP began its murderous attacks. A 11-year old student was brutally murdered in West Tripura district. A minister of the BJP state government charged that both the kidneys of this child were removed for illegal human organ trade spreading panic and fear amongst the common people. The Director General of Police, however, later clarified that both the kidneys of the boy were found in the body. Later that month three Muslim hawkers, doing business in the state for the last ten years were branded as “child lifters” and beaten up severely leading to the death of one them.
Subsequently, CPI(M) was targeted under the phoney pretext of originating violence. CPI(M) activists’ houses were attacked. Even party offices were not spared. A reporter working with the CPI(M) mouthpiece “Daily Desher Katha” was grievously wounded.
Instead of adhering to their constitutional responsibility of upholding law and order by protecting innocent citizens and punishing the culprits the BJP state government was seen patronizing these murderous private armies.
The attack on CPI(M) activists, supporters and sympathizers continued unrelentingly. Things again took a violent turn during the beginning of 2021 when BJP’s anti-social elements launched a spree of fresh violence attacking CPI(M) leaders, activists and offices. They attacked a local committee office and physically assaulted the activists.
CPI(M) Tripura state committee member and state secretary of AIDWA, a sitting member of the Rajya Sabha, was attacked by the BJP goons, seriously injuring her and her security officer when she paid a visit to the vandalised party office. Later they ransacked the MP’s residence and stole cash and other valuables.
BJP’s anti-social elements also attacked a sub-division committee office, assaulted the secretary and security officers and ransacked the office and damaged vehicles parked in the vicinity.
In its 40 month tenure as the party governing Tripura, BJP has bulldozed party offices of not only CPI(M) but also of other political parties along with offices of different trade unions. Offices belonging to different opposition parties have been burnt down, ransacked, looted and forcibly taken over.
Leader of the opposition and four-time Chief Minister of the Left Front, Manik Sarkar, has been repeatedly attacked along with his other fellow comrades. MLAs belonging to opposition parties are debarred from visiting their constituencies.
The BJP state government has failed to deliver on its election promises. It had published a vision document, prior to the Assembly elections, which had 299 promises like implementation of the 7th Central Pay Commission, fifty thousand government jobs every year, regularization of all casual employees, increasing the wage of REGA to Rs. 340/-, increasing the social allowance to Rs. 200/- etc. None of these poll promises have been kept. Unemployment is rampant, prices of essential commodities are hitting the roof, and public distribution system is in shambles. In villages and tribal areas basic infrastructure like roads, electricity is worn-out. In tribal dominated areas unemployment and malnutrition is casting its long shadow. People are being deprived of proper medical treatment. All this has been eroding the popularity of the BJP state government.
Multiple attempts were made to shut down the 42-year old CPI(M) party mouth piece “Daily Deshesh Kotha”. The state government has repeatedly stopped government advertisements to the paper to deprive it of its resources. Endeavours were made to stop the circulation of the paper. Auto and bus owners were instructed not to use their vehicles for transporting the paper.
Despotic attacks on democratic rights and the right to protect individual lives and properties continued unabated in BJP-ruled Tripura. LOP 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 occurred on May 29 and 30. 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 who were in home isolation having no helping hand and badly in need of oxygen, medicines, food, etc. Cabinet minister of the Biplab Dev government, Manoj Deb, spearheaded an attack on the houses of 15 CPI(M) leaders and workers at Kamalpur. The martyr column of Soumendra Sutradhar who sacrificed his life and succumbed to police firing during the food movement in 1967 was desecrated. The CPI(M) Kamalpur local committee office at Kamalpur town was locked and later occupied by BJP goons. Countless FIRs (First Information Reports) were lodged against the Party’s activists in different police stations, sometimes multiple FIRs were lodged against the same person in different police stations.
Leaders of the party on different occasions met the Governor of the state, to apprise him of the partisan role of the police and the deteriorating law and order situation in the state. The Governor assured the delegations that no political violation would take place again.
The fury of the BJP hooligans, though initially targeted against the communists, has been extended to doctors, para-medics, nurses, newsmen, advocates, intellectuals, and to whoever expresses 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.
Since March 3, 2018, the day of publication of assembly election results all that the state has seen are innumerable incidents of slaughtering of democracy, particularly incidents of physical attacks on the Left supporters, murders, collection of ransom, raid on the Left party offices, setting those on fire, forcible occupation of Party and mass organisation offices, incidents of arson, ransack, loot causing huge loss of homes, shops and other means of income of the Left leaders and supporters. They were also implicated in thousands of false cases. Even after such despotic, tyrannical repression the Chief Minister of the state had not had enough. He went a step further to instigate BJP cadres, at a party meeting, to annihilate the Communists from the state before the 2023 assembly election. What the CM had said was widely covered by the local media.
In this backdrop the youth wing of the party, DYFI (Democratic Youth Federation of India), undertook multifarious programmes to highlight the sufferings of the common people of Tripura and seek redressal from the government. These programmes were undertaken in the beginning of this month.
The DYFI had taken out a rally demanding jobs when they were stopped by the hoodlums of BJP followed by a heated exchange of words between the two groups. Later the DYFI activists were attacked and beaten up mercilessly landing quite a few of them to the local GB Hospital.
On September 6 thousands of CPI(M) activists, supporters and sympathizers thwarted a plan of the autocratic BJP-IPFT dispensation to disrupt a scheduled march of the CPI(M) to Kathalia to submit a deputation to the block development officer (BDO) on an eight-point charter of demands. Goons stationed at three locations under the patronage of the ruling BJP had tried to prevent the leader of opposition, Manik Sarkar, from joining the march. They met with a stiff resistance from the rallyists. The police too played footsie with the BJP activists in disrupting the peaceful march. Sarkar’s convoy was stopped by the police at Dhanpur. Here, a group of masked miscreants blocked the road by placing flaming tires on the road and pelted stones targeting the vehicles of CPI(M) leaders. The police requested Sarkar not to move further. Sarkar argued with the police that it was their duty to enable him to participate in his scheduled programme and act against law-breakers. Even then the police remained mute spectators. The marchers then advanced forward breaking all barricades and ultimately managed to submit a deputation to the BDO (Block Development Officer). Sarkar later addressed the rally. This is a battle thousands of Party workers and supporters had to fight to ensure Sarkar, a former Chief Minister of the state for 20 years, could enter the constituency he represents in the Assembly now.
Having failed to disrupt the scheduled programme in Kathalia, the BJP resorted to harassing CPI(M) cadres by using the police to file false cases against them . They lodged FIR against many of the CPI(M) leaders and workers. CPI(M) cadres were arrested indiscriminately. Simultaneously, the local BJP goons along with hired miscreants carried targeted attacks on the houses of the CPI(M) leaders with lethal weapons. The miscreants set the Bashpukur CPI(M) local committee office on fire and ransacked another office at Nidaya on September 7 evening.
The BJP in Tripura backed by the state government has unleashed a reign of terror and intimidation against all activities of the opposition in Tripura focusing their anger and frustration against the CPI(M) and the Left Front. It has also attacked media houses who report the truth. It is as though the Constitution of India, the democratic rights guaranteed to the people by the constitution and the norms of functioning in a parliamentary democracy have all been suspended in Tripura under the leadership of the BJP government. The Chief Minister himself has made the most provocative statements, issued threats and said outright lies justifying the attacks against the CPI(M). Some BJP leaders and ministers have also made provocative statements encouraging the attacks. From 2018 when the BJP assumed power, to the present, 21 supporters and members of the CPI(M) including a woman have been killed.
In many of the attacks on September 7 and 8, by BJP mobs, shouting Jai Shri Ram and armed with iron rods and petrol bombs, the police were either bystanders or refused to respond to calls regarding the attacks on homes and Party offices.
On September 7 and 8, 44 Party offices (42 of the CPI(M), 1 RSP and 1 CPI(ML)) have been attacked, burnt, party property destroyed. In an unprecedented display of criminality, the state office of the CPI(M) in Agartala was attacked, sought to be burnt, mobs entered the premises and vandalised the bust of veteran tribal leader and former chief minister Dasarath Deb. The CRPF guards deployed at the office were mysteriously withdrawn an hour before the mob attack. 67 houses and shops of CPI(M) supporters have been burnt or looted. Scores of supporters have been physically attacked of whom at least ten required immediate hospitalisation. Patronage is provided to the attackers while the police are filing false cases and making arrests of CPI(M) supporters.
While the media has widely reported the attacks on CPI(M) offices and supporters including the state committee office, it is significant that the country’s Prime Minister and Home Minister are silent. It is an indication of the central support of the Tripura government that details of the attacks on the CPI(M) sent to the Prime Minister by the CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury have not even been acknowledged. This is in sharp and stark contrast to the attitude of the centre when they receive complaints, often manufactured, from BJP leaders in opposition ruled states.
Since March 2018 to June 2021, 662 Party offices, 204 offices of Left mass organisations, 3,363 houses of CPI(M) members and supporters, 659 shops have either been gutted, ransacked or looted and 1,500 livelihood centres such as fish ponds, rubber trees and so on have been destroyed. Barbaric crimes against women are increasing in a shameless manner. False cases are being imposed in a bid to intimidate and silence CPI(M) leaders.
In a pre-planned fashion, Bhanu Smriti Bhavan, the CPI(M) headquarters and Dasarath Bhavan were set ablaze by mobs of BJP men and several vehicles torched. Among the offices which were damaged or burnt down are the Udaipur sub-divisional office, Gomati district committee office, Sepahijala district committee office, Bishalgarh sub-divisional committee office, West Tripura district committee office and the Sadar sub-divisional committee office.
Even the media has not been spared. When they highlight the reality they are attacked. More than 30 media persons have been physically attacked. In this phase, four media houses critical of the BJP government were attacked. The offices of an electronic media channel `PN-24 News’ was attacked. The hooligans also attacked the office of ‘Pratibadi Kalam’, a vernacular daily and vandalised the office building. The vehicle of its editor was damaged and motorbikes of journalists were burnt. Three journalists were injured and two of them had to be admitted to the hospital. The office of the newspaper ‘Daily Desharkatha’, which is supported by the CPI(M), was raided and also damaged.
The attacks on three separate buildings in Melarmath locality in Agartala were pre-planned in the wake of recent political programmes of the CPI(M) which drew huge crowds.
It is to be noted that the police who were present at many of these venues remained silent bystanders. In the case of state committee office some CRPF jawans were present in front of the office but they were withdrawn an hour before the attack began.
The impunity with which the BJP gangs operated shows the connivance of the state government. These attacks took place because the ruling party has tried and failed to suppress the activities of the main opposition in the state.