In yet another instance of BJP’s growing intolerance and violence against the political opposition in Tripura, especially the CPI(M), men allegedly belonging to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday attacked participants, including a convoy carrying a state MLA, who had come to attend a meeting addressed by former Chief Minister Manik Sarkar.
“Such attacks on opposition political parties and local body office-bearers have become a common feature in Tripura. The BJP state government is responsible for this deplorable state of affairs,” said a statement issued by the Politburo of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Detailing the violence on the party office in Bishalgarh where former Chief Minister Manik Sarkar was addressing a meeting on the the statement said, “On November 16, a meeting addressed by Manik Sarkar, leader of the opposition, at the Bishalgarh CPI(M) office was encircled by BJP men, who tried to disrupt the meeting. Earlier, BJP miscreants had sought to prevent people coming to attend the meeting. On their return also, many participants were attacked. 35 were injured. Narayan Chowdhury, MLA’s car was also attacked.”
On Friday, some reports had said that Sarkar’s convoy had been attacked, spurring widespread concern from leaders across the country.
Attacks on CPI(M) offices, elected representatives and cadre have been continuing unabated since the BJP government came to power in March this year.
“There have been a series of attacks on members of the zilla parishad. BJP goondas had attacked the house of South Tripura zilla parishad president, Himangshu Roy. Subsequently, on November 15, while proceeding to the zilla parishad meeting in Belonia town, BJP goons attacked the cars of Roy and other zilla parishad members. In the attack, some policemen were also injured,” the CPI(M) said, demanding that the state government take immediate steps to ensure the conduct of normal political activities in Tripura.
Tripura Congress Vice-President Tapas De also condemned the attack and told The Indian Express that “such incidents were testimony to the fact that the BJP was not ready to allow any free space to the opposition.”
Since the BJP, in alliance with the separatist IPFT (Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura) formed the government in Tripura early this year, such attacks on opposition political parties and local body office-bearers, especially of the CPI(M)-led Left Front have become a common feature in the hitherto peaceful North Eastern state.
Around 1,000 Left activists, including 100 women, have suffered injuries after attacks, around 750 offices of the CPI(M) have been either burnt, attacked or captured and over 2,000 houses of party sympathiser have been ransacked, party sources said.
“The complicity of the state administration is revealed by the fact that party leaders are being attacked even inside the police station when they go to lodge complaints,” the party said.
In August, the CPI(M) said that its activists collecting relief fund for those affected by the Kerala floods, were attacked in three places and even physically prevented, despite police presence.
“Senior leaders of the party and past and present elected representatives like Badal Chowdhury, Sudhan Das, Basudeb Majumder were among those who were prevented by BJP men in the presence of police,” the party said, adding that these “attacks and anti-democratic stance of the ruling party is typical of the situation tat is prevailing in Tripura since the BJP government came into office. Even collection for humanitarian relief is subjected to attack.”.
Over a month ago, publication of Daily Desherkatha, a 40-year-old progressive newspaper with the second largest circulation in the state, was stopped after its registration was cancelled on “flimsy” grounds, inviting widespread condemnation, including from the Editors’ Guild of India.
The newspaper resumed publication after 10 days after the High Court issued a stay on the administrative order stopping its publication.
During the Monsoon session of Parliament in July, the Left parties, including the CPI(M), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)-Liberation (CPI(ML)), Revolutionary Socialist Party, and All India Forward Bloc had even conducted a sit-in to draw national attention towards rising political violence in Tripura and to defend democracy and normal life of the masses in the state.