Vol. XLIII No. 07 February 17, 2019

Meanwhile in Tripura

Rahul Sinha

Mob lynching & the nefarious designs of RSS- BJP

THE pathetic situation of law and order in the state and the diabolical design of the RSS and BJP to use rumours and hatred to intensify its attack on the CPI(M) was again manifested in the state of Tripura. On June 26, an 11 year old student was brutally murdered near Taranagar of Mohanpur, West Tripura. Education minister and local MLA Ratan Lal Nath visited the spot and in front of a number of TV cameras went on record that an international kidney trafficking racket was active in the state and this very gang had killed the boy and removed both his kidneys.

Such a statement from a responsible minister quite naturally went viral in the social media and created fear and panic all over the state. This resulted in a number of cases of mob lynching and attacks in which four more people including a Muslim hawker, a tabla player and two women were killed, at least 21 more were injured including three railway employees from Assam. Though the DGP on 27th clarified that both the kidneys of the slain boy were intact, but this irresponsible comment from the minister was at the root of these unfortunate killings. But to cover up their misdeeds, BJP engaged paid IT cell workers to post fake and malicious posts in Facebook and other social media blaming CPI(M) and Manik Sarkar and Congress leader Birjit Sinha for being involved in kidney trafficking. Nath held a press conference blaming CPI(M) and Daily Desher Katha for creating lawlessness and threatened to house arrest CPI(M) leaders. Unable to control the situation, the administration suspended mobile internet services in the state for 72 hours causing immense problems for the people. CPI(M) Central Committee member Gautam Das in a press conference demanded immediate resignation or removal of Nath from the cabinet. Leader of opposition Manik Sarkar in a separate statement said irresponsible, baseless statement from certain quarters after the unfortunate murder of the boy has led to an unnatural situation. No one should take law in their hands. The police has to take more concrete and positive steps. He demanded appropriate compensation for the bereaved families and proper treatment of the injured on government expenses. He appealed that everyone should help the government to restore peace and normalcy. All the 12 persons arrested so far in connection with these incidents are BJP workers. But CM Biplab Deb defended the rumour monger minister and put the blame on CPI(M). Congress demanded a judicial inquiry against Ratan Nath. The situation is still tense and a nefarious design to use this incident as a pretext to mount further physical attacks on CPI(M) is clear.

Reporter of Daily Desher Katha attacked

IN a direct fall-out of CM and Ratan Nath blaming us for these incidents, the BJP on June 30 attacked and ransacked CPI(M) Mohanpur subdivision committee office. On the same day, houses of a number of CPI(M) supporters and workers were attacked. Narayan Dhar, Mohanpur sub division reporter of Daily Desher Katha was beaten up brutally by some alleged BJP miscreants at Mohanpur, West Tripura. They allegedly snatched away his press identity card, some money and other documents. They threatened that if the incident was reported to police, or he revealed their identity then he will be murdered, even his family members will not be spared.  He is being treated at AGMC and GBP hospital. The editor of Daily Desher Katha, Samir Paul, CPI (M) Mohanpur subdivision committee secretary Pranab Debbarma visited the hospital to inquire about his health. The editorial board of Daily Desher Katha strongly condemned this attack on Narayan Dhar and demanded that the state government must take speedy and stringent action against the perpetrators of this attack. But till date no one has been arrested. The editor of the Daily Desher Katha sought an appointment with the DGP in this matter, however the appointment has not been confirmed as we go to press.

Panchayat Amendment Bill: Blatant Attack on Democratic Rights of Rural People

In a blatant attack on the hard earned democratic rights of the people, the BJP-IPFT coalition government passed the Tripura Panchayat 6th Amendment Bill on June 28 in the floor of the assembly with the opposition walking out in protest. The bill provides that in absence (death or resignation) of both pradhan and upapradhan of a panchayat, the financial, developmental and administrative works could be handled by the government officials. They shall continue to do so until election is held. Though it might sound very practical and business like, the amendment in reality is a weapon to introduce control of bureaucracy over the people's elected representatives and aims at legitimising the spree of vandalism and plundering of people's money at panchayat level. To appreciate the hidden goals of the bill, one must look at the post election scenario in Tripura where more than one third of the elected representatives of three tier panchayat bodies have been forced to resign in the face of terror, threats and intimidation by the ruling BJP cadres. However, even after such a huge number of elected representatives of people have suddenly resigned from their posts, the ruling party wishes not to see these as a complete breakdown of democracy in the state and rather ridicules the issue as either personal problems or a 'sudden change of heart'. Instead of taking any step to restore democracy, the government had brought this amendment to the Tripura Panchayat Act. 

The leader of opposition, Manik Sarkar in his intervention said that when the three tier panchayat acts were passed in accordance with the 73rd amendment of the constitution, it clearly noted that the centre shall not give rural development funds unless there is an elected body. In consonance with the central act, all the states have legislated their own panchayat acts. He asked the government to show one instance where such a provision has been inserted that gives the power to the bureaucracy undermining the elected body. One must look at the background why this situation has emerged that hundreds of elected members are resigning. They are being threatened and are forced to resign.  Manik Sarkar said, the problem is a political one, hence it has to be resolved politically. Taking recourse to a legal or legislative path to solve it, will not help. If passed, this bill shall send a wrong message to the country. He urged the government to hold a meeting with the opposition political parties to discuss the situation so that a way out could be found. If the opposition's allegations that the elected members of the Left are being forced to resign is not factually correct, the opposition is ready to stand corrected, he said. He urged the government not to take away the hard earned rights of the people and vest it to the officers. Earlier Bhanulal Saha from the CPI(M) had questioned the sudden resignations  by the members of the three tier panchayat, after the change of government? How could more than 2000 elected members all of a sudden become unable to discharge their responsibilities? This amendment, if passed, shall be detrimental to democracy. It is a murder of democracy, he said and reminded the house how during the Congress-TUJS coalition regime of 1988-92 all the elected bodies were dissolved and a caretaker development committee was imposed. The people had termed it as a plundering committee. The same is being done in a clever manner. 

As even after the logical and valid arguments from the opposition the government remained unmoved and adamant to pass the amendment, the opposition walked out in protest before passage of the bill. Manik Sarkar said, you may pass the bill with majority, but we are compelled to walk-out as we cannot afford to be witnesses to this undemocratic move.

CBI books 3 IPFT leaders including MLA in the scribe murder case

The CBI which took up the investigation of the murder of young journalist Santanu Bhowmik has booked three leaders of IPFT including an MLA Dhirendra Debbarma. On September 19 last year, IPFT attacked a number of vehicles coming to the central rally of GMP at Agartala. On the next day they attacked the houses of those who braved to join the rally. Santanu had gone to Mandwai near Agartala to cover these attacks when alleged IPFT miscreants murdered him brutally. On the demands of the then Agartala Press Club, the then Left Front government had constituted  a special investigating team headed by GS Rao, IGP. The SIT had submitted chargesheet within 90 days against 12 persons. After assuming office, the BJP government had handed over the case to CBI. The CBI has booked Dhirendra Debbarma, IPFT MLA from Mandwai, Balaram Debbarma and Amit Debbarma both leaders of the IPFT in the case. All three of them are among those 12 against whom the SIT had filed chargesheet. One may call it a mere coincidence that just two days after this action of CBI, IPFT in a press conference announced unilaterally it will contest both the Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 general elections.