Tripura on Saturday witnessed state-wide protests over the death of three persons – one a woman and another a member of the ruling CPI(M) – in an incident of firing by BSF jawans in Bangamura, a village on the Indo-Bangladesh border in Sabroom sub-division in South Tripura district on Friday.
The local CPI(M) unit also enforced a dawn-to-dusk bandh in Sabroom sub-division. Tripura Sector BSF DIG Hardeep Singh said a group of 30 to 35 people – including some women – were trying to smuggle out a herd of about 30 cattle to Bangladesh when a couple of jawans on duty in the Bhangamura border outpost tried to stop them, following which the people surrounded the jawans and tried to attack them. “One jawan first fired two shots in the air to disperse the crowd. But the crowd grew violent and one of them attacked him with a dao (machete), which prompted him to open fire in self-defense,” DIG Singh told The Indian Express over the telephone from Agartala.
Singh said while there was a gap on the Indo-Bangladesh border near Bhangamura where a portion of the river Feni also comprises border, smugglers often make attempts to send out cattle to the other side. “While once in a while they try to push out five-six cows, on Friday there were over 40 cows, of which ten were already seized by our men before the firing incident took place,” he said. While the BSF has ordered a departmental inquiry into the incident, state chief minister Manik Sarkar has asked state chief secretary Sanjeev Ranjan and DGP K Nagaraj to submit a detailed report about the incident.
A section of local reports however said that some BSF jawans had allegedly outraged the modesty of a woman daily wager working in a rubber garden, which led to a commotion between local villagers who had turned up on the spot hearing the woman shout for help. The BSF DIG however denied any such incident. The dead have been identified as Suralakshmi Tripura (31), Min Kumar Tripura (35) and Pran Kumar Tripura (37). While Min Kumar Tripura is said to be a member of the Chitabari unit of the CPI(M), the other two were daily-wagers who worked in rubber gardens.
The 12-hour bandh affected normal life in Sabroom sub-division, while members of both the ruling CPI(M) and opposition Congress staged protests across the state protesting the alleged high-handedness of the BSF troops. A statement issued by the CP I(M) state secretariat in Agartala described the incident as an “instance of unlimited and unprecedented barbarity by a paramilitary force” to cover up their crime. The ruling party state secretariat also demanded institution of an investigation into the incident and compensation to the families of victims.