Three youths suspected of stealing cattle were reportedly lynched to death in Khowai district of Tripura on Sunday, June 20. According to reports, two of the victims were tied with ropes before an irate mob thrashed them to death, while the third was caught after a chase and beaten to death.
The three men, residents of three neighbouring villages of Sonamura subdivision in Sepahijala district, were allegedly transporting cattle in a mini-truck when they were stopped at north Maharanipur in Khowai district. People from nearby villages held Billal Mia (30) and Joyed Hussain (28) while Saiful Islam (18) managed to flee from the scene.
Soon, a mob gathered, and tied Billal and Joyed with ropes, and started beating them with bamboo and wooden sticks. They were allegedly thrashed to death at the scene. Another group of villagers who chased Saiful caught him at Mungiakami village, where he too was lynched. Police teams recovered the youths from both incident spots and shifted them to GBP Hospital in Agartala where they were declared brought dead, senior Khowai district police official Sonacharan Jamatia told mediapersons.
Talking to NewsClick, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and former MP from the state, Jitendra Choudhury, said, “Tripura has been in a state of complete lawlessness for the last 39 months since BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) came into power in the state. The residents of the state are experiencing an unprecedented amount of poverty, because of the absence of any government policy for employment. The crime rates have been increasing in the state, because of the high unemployment rates and the sheer indifference shown by the government and the police.”
Choudhury said that even if the three youths were stealing cattle, they should have been tried in the court of law. He said, “The youths of the state are utterly frustrated because of abject poverty. This is why crimes like cattle lifting have increased, because people, especially those belonging to the minorities, like the three youths who were killed, have no way to earn a livelihood and sustain themselves and their families.
Also read: Tripura: Three Lynchings in Two Days over Rumours of Child Lifting
Police said they had seized the mini-truck and five heads of cattle. A few heads of cattle were allegedly stolen from Namanjoypara, near north Maharanipur, where the vehicle was intercepted.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist), the state’s main opposition party, has vehemently condemned the mob lynching of the three young men. The party, in a statement released on June 11, said, “The frequent occurrence of lynching as a form of mob justice has been a feature of the BJP-IPFT (Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura) coalition government in the state. The current government has created an environment of lawlessness and violence in the state for their own political benefits, accompanied by utter passiveness shown by the police.”
Opposition leader and former chief minister Manik Sarkar said in a statement, “If the three men really were stealing cattle, they should have been handed over to the police and tried in the court of law. But the mob took the law into their own hands and beat them to death. This can never be accepted.” The CPI(M) has demanded that the state government immediately conduct an investigation into the incident, arrest the people responsible, and provide proper compensation to the families of the victims.
Choudhury said that there is another district between Sepahijala, where the men came from, and Khowai, where the incident happened. He said, “If the allegation of stealing cattle is true, then one must also ask what led these three men into travelling so far to steal something? This tells one how terrible the economic situation in the state is.”
This is not the first time something like this has happened in the state. Since 2018, there have been several incidents of people being mob lynched in the state. Choudhary said, “The government has never taken any steps to stop these incidents, the police have never arrested anyone. The police and the government not doing their work has become the norm in our state. Unless the state government actively takes steps to improve the conditions in the state, the situation will never improve.”