'Tripura govt complicit in violence’: Fact-finding report on riots in October, 2021

The BJP-led Tripura government was complicit in the riots by failing to take pre-emptive measures, says a report released by Centre for Study of Society and Secularism which investigated the matter

Representative photo: Tripura violence
Representative photo: Tripura violence

Neeta Kolhatkar

The north eastern state of Tripura was rocked with communal riots on October 20, 2021 following acts of vandalism at religious places. After the riots, the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism undertook a fact finding study and released a report on January 3, 2022. One of its key findings is that that the state government was complicit in the riots by failing to take pre-emptive measures against the violence .

The team, which included advocate Irfan Engineer and professor Shahiuz Zaman Ahmed ,visited the places affected by the communal riots in Tripura and conducted interviews with various people.

Its report clearly states that after the attack on Durga puja mandaps in Bangladesh, which shares borders with Tripura on three sides, Hindu nationalist groups began to deliberately fan communal tensions.

“The VHP, Bajrang Dal and other Hindu nationalist organisations may have perceived the attacks on Durga puja mandals in Bangladesh as an opportunity to stigmatize Islam and the Muslim community in Tripura and turn Hindu feelings against the Muslim community with the objective to spread their political ideology of Hindutva. The BJP-led government, it appears, might have decided to allow the Hindu nationalist organisations to arouse communal passions and permitted them to take out rallies,” the report clearly states.

The observers say the rallies were organised with a narrative of “save Hinduism” and a call was given to unite Hindus to stand by the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Tripura.

The report shows how the events were a part of a larger conspiracy and how events played out in Udaipur in Gomti district just before the riots broke out in Tripura. In both the places, the police sided with the rioters instead of booking them, it contends.

The report says that the state govt was complicit with the violence and failed to take pre-emptive measures. “The state was complicit with the violence initially, as they permitted rallies, which any reasonable person would know were intended to arouse communal passions, and ran a risk of triggering off riots.”

“No action was taken against the organisers of various rallies and those who shouted vulgar slogans intended to promote communal ill-will and hatred. The state instead preferred action against those who were documenting facts and reporting the events,” it added.

The report say, “Eleven mosques, six ships and two homes were damaged in the communal riots. Instead of taking action against the perpetuators and rioters, the state took action against journalists (two women reporters were arrested) and peace activists.”

The report further states, “The violence was not spontaneous as the reaction was not the next day after violence in Bangladesh. It was not the result of outrage of Hindus. Deliberate attempts were made by Hindu nationalist organizations to stoke communal passions by organizing a series of rallies in various towns in Tripura and shouting slogans that were derogatory towards minorities.”

The fact finding team also pointed out that though the Hindu organisations targeted the mosques, “those targeting the mosques seemed to be amateurs at the job, as they could not inflict major damages.”

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