The convoy of Tripura former chief minister Manik Sarkar and some senior CPM leaders was attacked at Rastarmatha in Sipahijala district, 25 km from Agartala, on Friday evening. They were on their way back to the state’s capital after attending a meeting to commemorate the November Revolution, police said. The CPM condemned the incident as “undemocratic and fascist” and said “BJP supported hooligans” were behind it. Sarkar and CPM leaders – including former finance minister Bhanulal Saha, Sonamura MLA Shyamal Chakraborty, former minority welfare minister Sahid Choudhury and Kamalasagar MLA Narayan Choudhury – were later rescued by the police and escorted back to Agartala.
“There was a hall meeting of CPM at the party’s Bishalgarh office from 1:30 pm till 4 pm today. After the meeting was over, Sarkar and other leaders of the party were on their way back to Agartala when they were reportedly attacked by a few men,” an officer on duty at the state police control room said.
Two associates of MLA Narayan Choudhury sustained minor injuries in the attack, the official said. He added that some of the vehicles in the convoy was damaged. A statement issued by the CPM’s state committee claimed that “BJP-supported hooligans” were behind the attack on Sarkar and his associates.
“Manik Sarkar joined a hall meeting to commemorate November Revolution anniversary at Bishalgarh sub-divisional office today. He joined there as principal orator of the event. A group of BJP supported hooligans gathered outside the hall before the event started. They tried to dissuade participants from joining the event. After it (the meet) got over, they attacked party leaders who were returning home,” CPM state office-bearer Rakhal Majumder said in a statement.
BJP spokesperson Dr Ashok Sinha, meanwhile, said he was not aware of such incident. He criticised any attack on the former CM and other opposition leaders saying such incidents were “undesirable”.
“This is sad. If any such thing has happened, I am sure the government will find out the truth behind it and punish the culprits. It is undesired that a veteran leader like Manik Sarkar should face such incidents. Whoever did this, should be punished according to law. This is damaging to democracy,” he said.
Tripura Congress vice-president Tapas De also condemned the attack and said such incidents were testimony to the fact that the BJP was not ready to allow any free space to the opposition.
On Thursday, 28 people, including 10 policemen were injured in an attack on veteran CPM leader and South Tripura Zilla Parishad chief Himangshu Roy at Belonia in South Tripura.