One dead, several injured in Tripura Police firing as protests against Bru resettlement turn violent

FP Staff
·4-min read

One person was killed and five were seriously injured in North Tripura's Kanchanpur on Saturday after police opened fire on protesters, reports said. The deceased was identified as 45-year-old Srikanta Das.

Members of the Joint Movement Committee (JMC) had staged a protest on the National Highway 8 in Kanchanpur demanding an indefinite shutdown over the issue of rehabilitation of Bru refugees, India Today reported.

The agitation is against the Centre's decision to rehabilitate thousands of displaced Brus from neighbouring Mizoram in Tripura. The refugees, currently living in camps in Tripura.

The JMC-led strike entered its fifth day on Saturday and "took a violent turn when an attempt was made to block the National Highway," the India Today report added.

According to a report in NDTV, additional security forces like the Tripura State Rifles have been mobilised in Panisagar, which is the area of the incident, and its surrounding localities.

The shutdown is being staged since 16 November and has caused tension in the Kanchanpur sub-division area. The protesters, around 12,000 to 15,000 in number, include students, women and children, who have been violating prohibitory orders to participate in rallies.

On Wednesday, the Kanchanpur administration in North Tripura district imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPc for 24 hours after a man was allegedly assaulted during a strike against the government's decision to settle displaced Brus in the area, an official said.

Kanchanpur Sub-Divisional Police officer (SDPO) Bikramjit Suklabaidya said that a pump operator identified as Subal Dey was assaulted at Purba Laxmipur village by a group of locals when he went there to perform his duties during an indefinite shutdown called by the JMC on Tuesday.

Sushanta Barua, the JMC spokesman, alleged that displaced Brus, who are lodged in rehabilitation camps of the subdivision, had "brutally" attacked the pump operator, who is now admitted in Kanchanpur hospital.

A group of Bru people allegedly stole four cows from a field in the same village on Tuesday and 35 people have taken shelter at Durgarampara High School at Dasda block of the subdivision, the SDPO said.

Adequate security forces were deployed in the area, but the locals who had taken shelter in the school refused to return home, he said.

The JMC spokesperson alleged that the Brus had attacked at least 75 houses in Purba Laxmipara village on Tuesday following which 273 families were "forced" to leave their homes and take shelter in the educational institute.

Meanwhile, normal life was paralysed in the sub-division for the third day on Wednesday due to the indefinite shutdown.

Vehicles did not ply while markets and business establishments remained closed and attendance in government offices was thin.

The government has decided to settle displaced Bru families in Kanchanpur sub-division, PTI reported.

However, the JMC, comprising Nagarik Surakhsa Mancha and Mizo Convention of the sub-division, has demanded that the Brus be resettled in all the eight districts of Tripura.

JMC chairman Zairemthiama Pachuau had told newsmen recently that the North Tripura district magistrate had assured that 1,500 families would be settled in the area. "But now the government is trying to settle 6,000 families," he said.

The Bru issue had started in September of 1997 following the demands of a separate autonomous district council, by carving out areas of western Mizoram adjoining Bangladesh and Tripura.

About 30,000 Bru tribals had then fled Mizoram due to the ethnic tension there and took shelter in refugee camps in Tripura.

The first attempt to repatriate the Brus was made in November 2009 by the Centre along with the governments of Tripura and Mizoram. However, the effort met with little success.

An agreement signed in 2018 to send back the Bru refugees to Mizoram could not be implemented due to their protests.

The Centre then signed a fresh agreement in January this year according to which the Brus will not be forced to return. The Centre had sanctioned Rs 600 crore as rehabilitation package for the displaced Brus as a final solution to the vexed problem after the agreement.

Officials said that 15 places have been selected for the rehabilitation of the Brus in districts of North Tripura, Dhalai, Unakoti, Sipahijala and Khowai on 19 September after a series of discussions with Law Minister Ratan Lal Nath, chief secretary Manoj Kumar and some revenue officials.

With inputs from agencies

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