Citizenship Bill protests: Tripura CPM, Cong seek judicial probe into Madhabbari clashes

Debraj Deb
Police personnel control a fire blocking the road set by protestors under various student union outfits protesting against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in Khumulwng, Tuesday, Jan 8, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Demanding a judicial probe, CPI (M)-led Tripura Left Front Committee Friday expressed concern that the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, at Madhabbari in West Tripura might lead to a riot-like situation due to the ethnic discord between tribal and non-tribal communities. It appealed to the government and related parties to maintain peace.

Addressing a press conference, Left Front convenor Bijan Dhar condemned the police firing at a group of agitators who were protesting at Madhabbri near Khumulwng in West Tripura, 20 kilometres from here, on Tuesday.

"BJP is expert in playing pisive politics between Hindus and Muslims, upper castes and lower castes, tribal and non-tribals. Lok Sabha elections are drawing near and we are concerned that this might lead to incidents like Tripura experienced in the past", Bijan Dhar said. He was referring to ethnic clashes that turned into a riot in June 1980 in Tripura. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) set up an enquiry commission. The committee reports were never made public but experts say over 1,300 people lost their lives in the riot.

Criticising the police action at Madhabbri, he said, "They were protesting. They obstructed the National Highway. They created law and order situation. But what situation arose that the police had to fire at them? This is a repressive measure and we severely criticize this action from police."

Also read : Fear grips residents after Madhabbari clashes, Tripura govt orders probe

Referring to the issue, Dhar Friday said Tripura is gripped by fear and anxiety in the wake of this violence and appealed to all parties to maintain peace and uphold law and order.

Demand for judicial probe

The Left Front Committee has also demanded a judicial inquiry on Madhabbari clashes by a sitting judge of the High Court of Tripura.

Echoing the Left Front’s demand for a judicial probe, Tripura Congress vice-president Tapas Dey Friday said that a magisterial inquiry would not be effective in finding out mistakes of the administration since the controversial police action was approved by an administrative officer.

Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT), Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura-Tipraha, which is a breakaway faction of Tripura's ruling ally IPFT, NCT and few other tribal regional political parties have called a 12-hour strike in Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) areas on Saturday.

The tribal parties criticized the role of police and administration in allowing to fire upon protesters and demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb over the issue.