Three days after three persons were shot following clashes between the police and agitators, resisting the Citizenship Amendment bill at Madhabbari in Khumulwng, Tripura, the local residents are still living in fear.
Several residents have expressed their anxiety and dissatisfaction, blaming the administration and the police for the incident. A local resident Budhulaxmi Debbarma told media that her house was damaged by Tripura State Rifles (TSR) jawans. “We were so afraid. They were simply shooting and the bullets could have hit any of us, hadn’t we run away for our lives”. Her family of twelve members kept hiding in the jungles until evening when there were no more shots to be heard. “All of us including five children starved throughout the day. If we hadn’t fled, we might as well have been shot”, she said.
However, heavy security has been deployed in Madhabbari and the adjoining areas, with the Tripura Police, Tripura State Rifles, Central Reserve Police Force and Assam Rifles safeguarding the areas. Assistant Commandant of 3rd Battalion TSR, TK Biswas, said that no further incident of communal flare-up has been reported since Tuesday.
The Tripura government Thursday ordered a magisterial inquiry into the violence erupted at Madhabbari in West Tripura district over protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on Tuesday. The police have extended prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC for the next 48 hours along with the ban on SMS and mobile internet services.
Assam has been engulfed in widespread protests against the Citizenship Bill, with protesters taking to the streets, blocking roads and marching with their clothes off in several parts of the state.
On Tuesday, January 8, a 11-hour bandh, called by AASU and the North East Students Organisation (NESO) had turned violent in Madhabbari district in Tripura, when protesters clashed with police, leaving 15 people, including 10 policemen and 5 protestors, injured as cops lathi-charged, burst tear gas shells and finally opened “blank-fire” to disperse an unruly mob.
Twipra Students’ Federation (TSF), which is a partner student body of North East Students’ Organization (NESO) in Tripura, had set up a blockade at Madhbabari in West Tripura district as part of the North East strike against the bill, which has now been passed in Parliament.
However, after a few hours, there was an altercation between the mob and the police during which a section of agitators set some shops ablaze. In order to control the mob, police burst tear gas shells and made “blank-fires” to disperse the mob. Three agitators sustained bullet wounds and several others were injured in the subsequent police lathi-charge.
Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, had, however, alleged the involvement of Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), a tribal party, and the CPI(M), in the incidents of road blockade at Madhabbari and ordered a Magisterial enquiry for the same.
He maintained that the that the Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed with positive thinking and that Tripura has a long tradition of giving shelter to the refugees.
It is notable here that the people of Assam have been demanding the ouster of Bangladeshis illegally settled in the state and a significant chunk of the Assamese population also believes Bengali Hindus too should be ousted from the state as they have encroached upon Assamese rights and benefits.
The chief minister of Tripura said if any person or organisation or political party wants to oppose anything they should do it in a democratic manner, but anybody taking the law into their own hands would not be tolerated.