-By Tapas Dey
By all indications the Tripura CPI (M) which specializes in disinformation against individuals and parties and also in confusing people through mischievous activities have been trying to sharpen Tripura’s traditional ethnic polarization and clashes involving tribals and non-tribals. This is illustrated best by the killing of TV channel journalist Santanu Bhwomik (29) on September 29 by an alleged group of regional IPFT workers at Mandai. The entire Mandai and Khumlwng areas under Jirania subdivision had been under prohibitory orders under section 144 because of longstanding ethnic tension . But defying the administrative order the CPI (M) party unit in Mandai had called a meeting on the Mandai stadium on the early afternoon of September 20. Provoked by CPI (M)’s meeting call the IPFT cadres who still remain politically untrained and ethnically motivated had invaded the CPI (M)’s meeting site and engaged in clashes , entailing large scale deployment of police and paramilitary forces. Poor Santanu had gone to the site to take photographs for the cable TV channel he had been working for. Having sighted him there the unruly IPFT cadres first hit him with a stone and then dragged him away to a nearby house and then hacked him to death by striking repeatedly with a ’Takkals’ (indigenous Daos), There was a furor among the media but the CPI (M) cunningly took over the protest of Agartala Press Club over the issue when senior CPI (M) leaders including state party secretary Bijan Dhar walked in a mourning procession. The CPI (M)’s designs are clear now : even though the media is demanding a CBI inquiry, the state government has ordered a SIT comprising state police officers so that the entire investigation can be manipulated.
But this is nothing new , in 2011 an innocent businessman Papai Saha had been killed by TSR bullet on July 11 but the CPI (M) framed a minority youth Shoaib Mia for the killing, going to the extent of manipulating even the post-mortem report and finding of the bullet lodged in Papai’s body. The case fell flat but CPI (M) still maintain Papai had been killed by Shoaib Mia. In 2012 two tribal youths Rabi and Lition Debbarma had been killed by CPI (M) goons in Jirania but the CPI (M) spread the canard that they had been killed in motor vehicle accidents. Besides, three raped tribal women in Sabroom had been described by CPI (M) party secretary Bijan Dhar as women of ‘loose morals’. Spreading disinformation and canards have always been parts of CPI (M)’s pernicious politics.
In fact political violence , polarization among people have been inalienable parts of CPI (M)’s politics not only in Tripura but also in West Bengal and Kerala . Though the party is virtually non-existent in West Bengal, it remains to be uprooted from Tripura and Kerala. In the run-up to the assembly polls of 1983 Tripura had seen large scale political violence including a deadly attack on then legendary tribal leader Dasharath deb by TNV militants in which five security men had been killed but the state government did nothing. But for central intervention CPI (M) would have made a mockery of the 1988 assembly polls as 102 people-all Bengali non-tribals-had bee killed by TNV in the week before the polls . But for disturbed areas act CPI (M) would have easily won the elections. Similarly, by sheer manipulation the CPI (M) had got president’s rule imposed on Tripura before 1993 assembly polls even though five of their own workers had been killed while making bombs in Ramchandra Ghat . All elections since then in Tripura have been preceded by large scale ethnic violence and polarization and CPI (M) have been beneficiaries .
In this context we may recall the June 1980 riots which brought about a sharp ethnic polarization in the state and ultimately CPI (M) won hands down the first ADC elections held in January 1982. It is ethnic polarization and ethnic violence on which the CPI (M) survives in Tripura and they will thrive as long as they are in a position to bring about the same before all elections. This is the reason why the CPI (M) government headed by Manik Sarkar has given a free run to the ethno-centric IPFT which has been creating havoc in the state since the national highway blockade of July and through continuous ethnic violence . That CPI (M) has given them a free run is proved by the fact that a DSP was attacked by IPFT at Khumlwang on 23rd August but no case was registered. On September 20 when journalist Santanu Bhowmik had been killed, IG (law and order) , K.V.Sreejesh, SP (West ) Abhijeet Saptarshi and DIG Arindam Nath had been physically assaulted at Khumlwng where they had gone for peace talks but no action as been taken even though the officers were forced to retreat .
As the assembly polls draw close it is quite on cards that the IPFT will step up its ethnically motivated violence and attacks , creating a lawless situation in the state . Unless all political parties wake up to the reality and distinct possibility the CPI (M) will yet again capitalize on ethnic hatred and violence between communalities to capture power with the help of police, cadre and administration. So the bell tolls really for opposition.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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