Fear and trauma still haunts survivors of anti-Muslim violence in Tripura: Lawyer for Democracy

The group investigated and released their fact finding report after visits to area hit by anti-Muslim violence in Tripura; survivors are still waiting for justice and compensation

Tripura violence

Lawyers For Democracy, a coalliton of law practitioners have recently investigated and released their fact finding report, after visiting the areas hit by anti-Muslim violence in Tripura. The lawyers, belonging to different organisations, were led by Ehtesham Hashmi, Advocate Supreme Court of India, and travlled to meet survivors of the Anti-muslim violence in Tripura. The report was released simultaneously in Agartala and in New Delhi on November 1.

The report tracks the socio-political history of the region after 1947. It recalls the history of the region noting that it was on September 9, 1949, that “the Queen of Tripura signed an agreement with India, due to which it became a Part C state of India. In November 1956, it was made a union territory.” Tripura has a rich culture and is home to about 19 tribes such as Tripuri, Rang, Chakma, Garo, Kuki, Uchoi, Manipuri and Mizo. According to the report, Tripura has had a “long history of tribal insurgency and armed rebellion over the failed demand for an independent country and has been attacking non-tribal Bengalis, accusing them of turning the tribal community into a minority.”

However, Tripura has never had Hindu-Muslim fights, barring “sporadic incidents in 1992 when the Babri mosque was demolished.” That changed in 2019, states the report when “an organized mob attacked mosques and Muslims, in Baidadigih.” In 2018 the Bharatiya Janata Party had defeated the CPM-led Left government which had been in power in the state for 25 years. 

Tripura violence

Why are Muslims being targeted now?

According to the report, Muslims in Tripura number around 3,60,003 which is less than ten percent of the total population. When Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) organised rallies across the state to protest the violence against Hindus during the Durga Puja celebrations in Bangladesh, Tripura was impacted. Rallies were reportedly organised by Vishva Hindu Parishad, Hindu Jagran Manch and Bajrangdal in Tripura. Some of these ended in “clashes with the police and vandalism of houses, shops and shrines belonging to the minority Muslim community.”

The lawyers who formed the fact finding team spoke to some of those who were impacted by the violence. Amiruddin Mohammad Yusuf used to run a grocery shop in the Rawa market for 20 years before it was burnt down. He said he has suffered a loss of six lakh rupees and even though he knows the arsonist’s name, he is reluctant to complain as he fears further attacks. 

Another survivor, Md. Amir Hussain who runs a shop selling electronics in Rava Bazar, Panisagar said his Hindu neighbour Manik Debnath reasoned with the rioters that his own home would burn down if Hussain’s shop next door was set on fire. The riots did not torch the shop but robbed the laptops, water motors and other electronic items from there, ransacked the interiors and burnt the stock outside the shop. He claims to have suffered a loss of about ten lakh rupees but the “government has given him a compensation of only ₹ 26,800,” said the report. The neighbouring Hindu family of Manik Debnath also continue to live in fear of the rioters. There were nine shops that were targeted, and three houses that were damaged, stated the report. However, many are yet to get any compensation, claimed the lawyers.

Tripura violence

According to the report 12 mosques have also been targeted. They have suffered various degrees of violence and desecration. These are:

1  Kalam Chuda Masjid

2  Belwar Char Masjid

3  Naravara Purab Tila Mosque

4  Chandrapur Masjid

5  Krishna Nagar Mosque

6  Udaipur Kakraban Mosque

7  Chumhani Mosque

8  Fort City Jama Masjid

9  Kumar Ghat Pal Bazaar Mosque

10  Dharmanagar Mosque

11  Panisagar CRPF Mosque

12  Masjid Rawa Chamtila Panisagar

Tripura violence

Conspiracy theories thrive

The group of lawyers have said that Tripura is due to hold elections to local bodies in November, and the rift between Hindus and Muslims “is done to take political advantage”. The fact-finding team claims to have found “that such incidents could have been prevented had the police and administration handled the situation strictly.” They alleged that four days before the violence broke out in Tripura, members of the “Jamaat-E-Ulema (Hind) met Chief Minister, Biplab Kumar Dev, and apprised him of a potential unrest they feared may take place.” The lawyers alleged that there was no preventive action.

They have demanded, among other things, that the government set up “an inquiry committee headed by retired High Court judge and get the whole incident investigated” and that “separate FIR must be filed on the complaint of victims.” They have also asked that police officers found to have neglected their duties should also be “immediately removed from their post.” The group has also asked that the “government should get the religious places damaged in arson and sabotage rebuilt at their expense” and “strict legal action should be taken against the people who create false and provocative messages and them viral on social media, and against all the people and organizations who repeatedly incite people and create ruckus for the rally.”

The complete fact finding report may be read here.



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