A massive wave of anti-Muslim violence was witnessed about a week ago in Tripura which has led to 16 verified incidents of Mosques getting vandalised. Of the same, three Mosques were completely burned down. 27 verified incidents of mob violence and an incident of right-wing groups attacking three houses in Panisagar and molesting women were also reported.
News reports suggest that the attacks were in retaliation to the communal violence in Bangladesh that went on for a few days about a week ago. However, locals told Siasat.com that it was just an excuse for the Hindutva mobs to unleash terror on the local Muslims in Tripura.
Bursting the myth of police protecting Mosques in Tripura
While addressing an online press conference on anti-Muslim violence in Tripura, organised by the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), Fawaz Shaheen, the national secretary of Students’ Islamic Organisation (SIO) said that sections of national media which managed to report on the ongoing violence are misleading people. While Shaheen verified that police officials were granting protection to mosques, he said that it was limited to district centres alone.
“The attacks are not happening in district centres, they’re happening in remote areas,” he added.
Nadeem Khan, secretary of APCR speaking at the same event said that a very dangerous face of majoritarian democracy has been unleashed in Tripura, and remarked that the government is misleading the public amass by investing heavily in public relations. “They are only showing a few images of police protecting the masjids in Agartala, the state capital, where the violence is minimal,” he said.
State sponsored violence?
Around fifteen to twenty thousand Muslims had protested on Tuesday in North Tripura against the violence. However, section 144 (ruling that prohibits public gatherings in a given jurisdiction) was immediately imposed.
“The same was not done in the case of mobs wreaking havoc in rural Tripura,” pointed out Noorul Islam Mazharbhuiya, the president of Jamaat-e-Islami Tripura. He further alleged that the government of Tripura is letting this happen and letting the mobs do as per their wish.
He added that in one of the districts a superintendent of police was able to stop the mob and declare lathi charge. However, he said that the situation is opposite in other districts and the mobs are openly attacking people in bazaars. Sultan Hussain, an activist with the SIO said that Muslims tried organising a protest in Kailashnagar and Dhamanagar, wherein the police immediately imposed section 144. He questioned why the police could not impose the same in other areas.
Furthermore, Nadeem Khan compared the government’s responses to communal violence in both Bangladesh and in Tripura and said that the violence in Bangladesh went on for a few days but the government was able to take immediate action and arrested about 500 people. “The case seems to be the opposite in India as if the government wanted this to happen,” he said.
“Journalists are not allowed to go to the violence-hit areas,” Nadeem alleged.
Fawaz Sheheen remarked that so far there has not been any news of any rioters getting arrested in Tripura.
Complicity of opposition parties
Surprisingly, as national media is ignoring what’s happening in Tripura and misreporting in some cases, local activists alleged that the civil society and non-BJP parties who are otherwise very active are silent on the ongoing violence. Noorul Islam alleged that workers of the Communist Party of India, Marxist (CPM) and Congress Party also joined the mobs in attacking Muslims.
“They are doing this to gain the favour of the majority for electoral purposes,” he remarked. The opposition parties are also making speeches on the Bangladesh violence which in turn is fueling the anti-Muslim violence in the state. Shaheen termed this as “competitive hate-mongering” amongst all parties where they are competing to portray themselves more anti-Muslim than the others as Muslims in the state are only eight per cent and don’t carry any relevant electoral weight. The opposition seems too scared to speak up for the Muslims risking their political careers, he said.
“The CPM has a lot of influence in the state. They just lost one election, however, the entire leadership and cadre of CPM are completely silent,” Nadeem Khan stated.
On Tuesday, in north Tripura, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Hindu Jagran Manch (HJM) organised rallies where they chanted derogatory slogans against Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, and also against the Muslim community, said Sultan Hussain.
He further added that the police were giving protection to the mobs who were provoking the Muslims. “All these rallies are very aggressive and violent,” he added.
Fawaz Sheheen said that in some areas where the police managed to control the mobs, they continued to chant derogatory slogans.
“Tripura has a very vulnerable Muslim population of eight per cent, and the attacks are happening in areas with around two per cent Muslim population. Many people have left their houses and seem to have given up hope that the government would even protect them now,” said Nadeem Khan.