Tripura Violence – Untold Testimonies

Several Durga Puja pandals and temples in Bangladesh were vandalised on October 15 after social media posts claiming a copy of the Quran alegedly placed under the feet of a Hindu goddess.

Outrage on social media led to the protests and communal violence. Attacks on the houses and the religious places of the Hindu minority were also reported in different parts of the country.
Hindu outfits in neighbouring Tripura called for protests demanding justice for Hindu minority of Bangladesh, leading to sporadic clashes in the State.

Several rallies led by violent right wing organisations like Vishva Hindu Parishad, Hindu Jagran Manch and Bajrangdal in Tripura ended in clashes with the police and vandalism of houses, shops and shrines belonging to the minority Muslim of the state.

On October 26, activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had allegedly vandalised a mosque and shops and houses belonging to Muslims in North Tripura district’s Panisagar sub-division, during a protest against the communal violence in Bangladesh. The Tripura police however claimed that no mosque had been damaged in the district. It was said that photos on social media showing the mosque burning were fake.

The Tripura High Court on Friday took suo moto cognisance of the violence that erupted in the state earlier this week and directed the government to submit a report on the matter by November 10, Live Law reported.

Supreme Court Advocate Ehtesham Hashmi along with lawyers visits Tripura to probe the violence against Muslims. The team met the aggrieved parties and gathered the facts from the ground.

The fact finding team found that the incident happens to furtherance the political interest of Bhartiya Janta Party. Their Probe reveals that the protests were held at 51 places in Tripura over incidents of attacks on Hindu minorities in Bangladesh. Violence started over the demonstrations, properties were burnt and a huge panic situation was created targeting particularly Muslims.

The Investigating Team of Supreme Court Advocates and Human Rights Organization hold a Press Conference in Tripura on Monday. The investigation team issued a joint press statement citing that “The manner in which the situation has been developed after the incident of violence against Muslims in Tripura suggests that if the government had wanted, it could’ve saved such horrible incident from happening”.

Press note further states that “This is the complete failure of state government. The political interests of BJP and the ideology of violent patriotism have captured the state and have conspicuous support amongst the public. If the government had taken appropriate steps, the incident wouldn’t have assumed such a formidable form”.

As per the Fact Finding Team of the Supreme court Lawyers, Twelve mosques were vandalized by the violent goons amidst the terrible violence that took place in Tripura.

Kalam Chuda Masjid

On the night of 23 October 2021 in the Kalam Chuda Masjid of Sonamora, the wall around the mosque was broken; people offered Namaz five times daily in this mosque. The next morning, the police and the local panchayat chairman, Shabarti Das, called the people of the Hindu community and talked to the people of the Hindu community and got the mosque repaired by getting new tin and wood for the mosque.

Belwar Char Masjid

On the night of 17 October, Hindutva people removed the mic of the Belwar Char Masjid. On receiving the news, the people of the Muslim community gathered under pressure, the village panchayat chairman Subhash Das got the mike installed again. Police have been deployed near the mosque for security.

Naravara Purab Tila Mosque

This mosque is in Bishalgarh, here on the night of 13 October 2021, the bed carrying the dead body, around 30 prayer mats and sign boards were set on fire. After the news of the arson, the crowd of people rushed to extinguish the fire. The mosque could have got completely burnt if the appropriate actions had not been taken by the locals.

Chandrapur Masjid

This is the largest mosque of Chandrapur. On the night of 12 October 2021, the mosque’s shop was set on fire. An attempt was made to break the main gate of the mosque with an iron hammer, but the violent elements failed to destroy the gate. The rioters tried to sabotage the mosque by throwing bricks. On the night of 13th October, the alleged incident of throwing pork in the same mosque reported.

Krishna Nagar Mosque

The plastic and glass in front of the mosque was broken on 20th October 2021. The CCTV camera was broken and the tube lights were also broken.

Udaipur Kakraban Mosque

This mosque made of wood and tin was completely burnt on 19th October 2021. This mosque is situated in the Dargah Bazaar of Gomti. The land of this mosque was donated by a rubber trader.

Chumhani Mosque

The rioters had collected clothes in this mosque and set those clothes on fire. But there was no damage to the mosque. The rioters stole the mic.

Quran also burn when rioters fired masjid Dargah Bazaar of south tripura)

Fort City Jama Masjid

On 19th October 2021, the flag of the Lord Shiva was allegedly placed by the enemies of peace at the gate of this mosque late in the night. Later it was removed.

Kumar Ghat Pal Bazaar Mosque

On 19th October 2021, the mosque door and prayer mats were burnt and the mic used for the azan was damaged.

Dharmanagar Mosque

The windows of the Kala Jama Masjid in the east of Kala Chadha block of Dharmanagar were damaged. At Dharmanagar in North Tripura, a 10,000-strong rally was taken out on October 21 by different organisations including the VHP and the HJM.

Panisagar CRPF Mosque

The Door windows of this mosque were broken, fans and mics were damaged and this mosque was set on fire, in which prayer mats, Quran and other stuff were burnt.

Quran was burnt when rioters fired masjid CRPF in Panisagar of north Tripura

Masjid Rawa Chamtila Panisagar

On October 26, a protest rally taken out by the VHP at Panisagar in North Tripura traversed different localities like Chamtilla, Jalebasha and Rowa Bazar. A section of the protesters allegedly vandalised a few houses and burnt some shops at Rowa Bazar. The rioters who took part in the rally damaged a local mosque, the rioters threw stones at the doors and windows of the mosque, which broke the windows, damaged the properties of the mosque and a tree was cut also down in front of the mosque.

Three residences and a few shops in Rowa Bazar, that were occupied by members of the minority Muslim community, were also plundered, Superintendent of Police Bhanupada Chakraborty indicated, as per news agency PTI.

Around 15 people, including three security personnel, were injured when right wing groups clashed with the police at Udaipur in Tripura, on Thursday, 21 October. The police had said that the protestors had resorted to stone-pelting and three police officials were injured.

Activists of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) were disallowed by the police from taking out a procession in the Gomati district, about 50km from the state capital Agartala, against attacks on Hindu minorities in Bangladesh.

Similar protest rallies were held at Agartala in West Tripura and Dharmanagar in North Tripura district the same day. The protesters claimed they had been given permission for the rally, but the police said section 144 was imposed in the area.

“The protesters were baffled by this sudden obstruction and there was some scuffle. We suspect some people might have tried to confuse the administration saying we would disrupt law and order. Twelve protesters sustained injuries in the lathi charge and are now under treatment at Gomati district hospital,” Abhijit Chakraborty, a local RSS leader told The Indian Express.

Fact finding team found that 9 shops that have been targeted

Aminuddin S/O Sajjad Ali Rawa Bazaar, Panisagar, Grocery Store
Amir Hussain S/O Abdul Sabbur Rawa Bazar Panisagar Computer and Electronic Goods Store
Sanovar Ali S/O Mushahid Ali Rawa Bazaar, Panisagar, a clothing and footwear shop
Shabbir Ali S/O Abdul Khaliq Rawa Bazar Panisagar Cosmetic & Food Shop
Yusuf Ali S/O Jalaluddin Rava Market Panisagar, Grocery Store
Mohd Ali S/O Faizul Rehman Rawa Bazar Panisagar Cosmetic and Computer Shop
sultan hussain S/O faizul haq rava bazar panisagar, xerox and computer
Ziauddin S/O Meena mian rava bazar panisagar, owner of 6 shops is the same man who had given the rest to the shop
On 24 October, the bakery of businessmen Shamim Ahmed, a bakery in kelashar, was damaged.

3 Houses that were damaged as per the report of fact finding team

The rioters targeted Abdul Mannan’s house in Kel town twice. Mannan is a contractor, once on October 17, Hindu mobs put saffron flag on his house, second time on October 26, at 12 midnight, when his house was attacked and ransacked.

At this time only his four-year-old son and wife were at home. They were forced to run from there in the dark to save their lives.

Abdul Mannan was not at home at the time of the attack. He was in Agartala, the capital of Tripura. Abdul Mannan is a well-known businessman and a close relative of a member of the State Legislative Assembly. Despite this fact, he could not stop the attack on his house.

The rioters ransacked the house of Syed Tohid in Dharmanagar

The rioters ransacked the house of Syed Tohid in Dharmanagar. Syed Tohid’s house was adjacent to the wall of the mosque, the rioters wanted to damage the mosque, but the rioters did not open the door of the mosque. His house was targeted. The entire furniture, chair and essential items of the house were broken.

Saffron mobs barged into Saina Begum’s house in the Panisagar area

Saffron mobs barged into Saina Begum’s house in the Panisagar area, misbehaved with her and plundered chains and bangles from her neck and that of her daughter. Her house was ransacked and the iron almirah kept in the house was also looted. The rioters broke the bathroom doors of her house.

Untold Testimonies of the Victims

Mohammed Yusuf Ali age 40 shopkeeper Rawa Bazar

Like Amiruddin, Mohammad Yusuf used to run a grocery shop in the Rawa market when Amiruddin’s shop was burnt down.

He has been running his shop for past twenty years, but he never witnessed such. Such incident never happened untill now when all of a sudden situation turned worse, and he has to see his shop burning in front of his eyes.

He says that he has suffered a loss of six lakh rupees due to arson. Though he knows the arsonist name but in fear couldn’t revel. He says, this may harm or inflict upon him again.

MD Amir Hussain 34 years shopkeeper Dawa Bazar

He runs a computer parts and electronic hardware shop in Rava Bazar, Panisagar. There are eight members in his house, he is running his shop in this market for the last ten years. He made a good business out of it.

Adjacent to the back side of his shop was the house of a Hindu, Manik Debnath. When the rioters were trying to burn down the shop, he came in front of the Hindu rioters and said that his house is adjacent to the shop. If it sets on fire, then my house will also burn. The rioters did not set fire to his shop but robbed the shop instead. Laptops, water motors and other electronic items were looted. The rioters broke the door of his shop, took out the printer, set it on fire, ransacked the Xerox machine, took out electrical and hardware items and burnt it.

He told Adv Ehtesham Hashmi that he suffered a loss of around ten lakh rupees but the government has given him a compensation of only ₹ 26800. The neighbouring

Hindu family of Manik Debnath refused to tell the name of rioters and arsonist when inquired by Amir but he believes that they know rioters name. And if the investigating agencies interrogate Manik Debnath, he will tell the name of the rioters to the investigating agency.

Sabir Ahmed. Age – 20 years Shopkeeper

Rawa Bazar, Panisagar Sabir told the fact-finding team that the burden of six family members had fallen on him after his aging father’s health deteriorated.

Shabbir had opened a children’s food’s, stationery and cosmetic shop near the school 15 days ago. He said that the rioters did not burn his shop, but broke the door of the shop, looted all the goods and ransacked the shop. Sabir says that he has suffered a total loss of one and a half lakh rupees. The government has not yet given any compensation to him.

Munawar Ali, 72, a resident of Rava Bazaar in Panisagar

Told the fact-finding team that announcements were being made for the 26 October misal (rally) from October 15 in the Panisagar division. In that announcement, VHP people were saying that Hindus who would not participate in this rally will be boycotted.

The people of VHP had brought JCB machines to the rally. With this machine their intention was to damage shops and mosques. They tried it unsuccessfully at a shop in Rava Bazaar. We, all the men, children, young and old of the village started gathering near the mosque to save the mosque. The distance of Rawa Bazar from the mosque is 500 meters and the shops of Rava Bazar are clearly visible from there.

The owners of the 11 shops which were set ablazed and vandalized were standing with us near the mosque watching their shops burning. We have been living here for two generations. We have never seen so much hatred in all these years. After the BJP government came to power in the state, an atmosphere was created against the Muslims. The result of which has come out in the form of this incident.

When the arson was taking place, we called the local BJP MLA Vinay Bhushan Das 7-8 times. He picked up the phone once and said that he was in a meeting in Agartala. After the incident, the men are guarding outside the houses in night shifts. There is still an atmosphere of fear among the people.

Police are not patrolling the area. Our village was selected as the Ideal Village, such an incident in such a village spoils the name of the village.

When the fact-finding team was talking to Munawar Ali, a 26-year-old non-Muslim youth named Ranjit Tripura came there. The people of the Muslim community present there praised him and said that this boy did not attend the rally and after the arson he is coming to our aid. When Amit Srivastava, the member of the investigation team asked him why you did not go to the rally, Ranjit said that I do not like those people. My friends are Muslims. I am also sad that their shops are burnt.

In Dharmanagar the investigation team went to meet Trinamool Congress leader, Advocate Abdul Basit Khan, at his residence. But that day there was a Trinamool Congress rally in Agartala. Due to this, the meeting could not take place. His son-in-law’s house was ransacked by rioters.

When asked why the son-in-law’s
house was targeted, Basit Khan’s son gives two or three reasons that his brother-in-law Sayyed Tohid’s house was adjacent to the wall of the mosque. The rioters wanted to damage the mosque, but because the gate of the mosque could not be opened, his house was targeted. The second reason is that the drainage water from the mosque and Sayed Arif’s house goes into an open drain outside the house. After dark, in this street which is of 8 feet, drunken people used to urinate in this drain. A few months ago, Sayyed Tohid had an argument with these people on this matter. After several days, those people broke a bottle of liquor in front of Sayyed Tohid’s house. Due to this enmity, his house was also targeted.

Complaint Copies given by victims in police station but police not registered FIR

History of Tripura

After India’s independence in 1947, Tippera district came under the control of East Pakistan and till 1949 Tippera Hill was in the hands of the Regency Council. On 9 September 1949, the Queen of Tripura signed an agreement with India, due to which it became a Part C state of India.

Later on November 1956, it was made a union territory of the country without any rules and in July 1963 its cabinet was also elected.

The culture of Tripura is quite rich. There are about 19 tribes in this state and even today they like to continue their livelihood through forest. The tribals like Tripuri, Rang, Chakma, Garo, Kuki, Uchoi, Manipuri and Mizo still prefer to mostly live in and around the forests.

The local people here mostly speak Kokborok language. The people of the tribe living here mostly use Bengali language like Sabroom and Chakra. Some people also speak in Rakhal and Halam languages.

Tripura is surrounded by Bangladesh on three sides by 856 km long border. It has 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. There was violence between Bengalis and tribals in Tripura
in 1980, involving both Hindu and Muslims.

Tripura has never had Hindu-Muslim dispute. There were sporadic incidents in 1992 when the Babri mosque was demolished. There has never been religious violence in Tripura even when it was a monarchy and even after its merger with India in 1949.

For the first time in 2019 Baidadigih, an organized mob attacked mosques and Muslims. In the 2018 elections, the BJP defeated the CPM-led Left government. The Left had been in power in the state for 25 years. The population of Muslims in Tripura is 360,003 which is less than ten percent of the total population. Here Muslims do not live in any one place but are spread throughout the province. The peace, law and order situation prevailing over the years has helped the state to improve its economic condition.

Tripura has been instrumental
in India’s ‘Act East Policy’ as it has improved friendly relations with Bangladesh and Myanmar. Recently, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) organized rallies across the state.

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