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Day after clashes, 14 TMC activists arrested in Tripura for ‘violating Covid norms’, granted bail later

Trinamool Congress said that all party workers and supporters, who were injured in the clashes on Saturday, would be taken back to Kolkata “on an urgent basis” as they have sustained injuries and require medical attention.

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala |
Updated: August 8, 2021 10:13:29 pm
Tripura, TMCA TMC activist injured in the clash on Saturday (Twitter: @AITCofficial)

A day after reported clashes between Trinamool Congress leaders and BJP supporters in Tripura, 14 TMC activists were arrested on Sunday in Khowai district. Cops said they have been held for violating Covid norms and blocking the national highway on Saturday. But only hours after their arrest, they were granted bail by a local court later on Sunday.

Trinamool Congress said that all party workers and supporters, who were injured in the clashes on Saturday, would be taken back to Kolkata “on an urgent basis” as they have sustained injuries and require medical attention.

On Saturday, Trinamool Congress youth leaders Sudip Raha and Jaya Dutta, who are camping in Tripura for organisational activities, said they were injured in an attack allegedly by ruling BJP supporters at Ambassa in Dhalai district.

Khowai district superintendent of police Kiran Kumar said the 14 TMC activists were arrested in connection with three separate cases registered at Teliamura police station and Ambassa police station. These cases include charges of violation of curfew hours and restrictions under the Epidemic Diseases Act and blocking a national highway.

The official stated that 14 TMC activists sought police help on Saturday evening at Mungiakami in Khowai district saying they were afraid of attacks on their way to Agartala. He added that the activists were taken to a local police station and then to Dhalabil police station in the vicinity, where they were offered food. But when the police wanted to take them to the police station for “better security” since it had CCTV coverage, the TMC supporters allegedly declined and wanted to stay back in the barracks.

The officer-in-charge of Teliamura police station said that a case was registered against the 14 TMC activists under the Epidemic Diseases Act since they were flouting night curfew restrictions which come into force from 7 pm every day. Cops said the TMC activists were kept in protective custody till morning and were arrested in the morning.

On Sunday, TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee landed at Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport, rushed to Khowai and met police officers over the arrest of the TMC activists.

Speaking to reporters later in the afternoon, Banerjee said, “The police stopped our party workers last evening saying there is security risk ahead and that they would not be able to handle the law and order situation. After the party workers halted for the night, they were arrested early in the morning today. Cops said the party workers have broken the Disaster Management Act. Don’t they see hundreds of BJP supporters had also gathered here today? Is Tripura a separate country? Indian laws apply similarly to all political parties and states.”

He added, “It is evident from these attacks that there is no democracy in Tripura. The victims of the attack are being arrested and the attackers are being shielded by the administration. Everyone knows why it is happening.”

He further claimed that while TMC supporters are being booked on the ground of flouting Covid norms, no action is being taken against the BJP party workers who carried out the attacks. “The Biplab Deb-led BJP government can’t stop Trinamool Congress by attacking its party workers, damaging a few vehicles and using violence. Even lawyers representing TMC were attacked while they were going to court,” he said.

Later on Sunday, while police sought judicial custody for all the accused persons, the Khowai district court granted bail to all the 14 people in the case related to violating restrictions under the Epidemic Diseases Act and interim bail in connection with the two other cases. The court has asked the police to submit a case diary on August 10, the date of next hearing.

Later in the evening, a statement issued by the All India Trinamool Congress media team stated that TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee would take all the injured party workers and supporters back to Kolkata on an urgent basis. “Following the attack meted out against the workers, no medical help was extended for nearly 24 hours. Amid this ongoing crisis, they will now be brought to Kolkata for necessary treatment and care,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, criticising the alleged attacks on Trinamool Congress on Saturday, CPI(M) and Congress have said that the incidents proved that there is no rule of law in Tripura.

BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya, however, said that his party was not involved in carrying out any attack and a “political drama” is being staged by TMC in Tripura.

“We aren’t calling the shots on whom the police should arrest. There is a separate investigating agency and they are doing their work. Certain TMC leaders from West Bengal are creating unrest here, smashing bikes and cars in Tripura. They are trying to create disturbance here with tacit support from CPI(M).  But we urge the state government to take all necessary actions against anyone disturbing law and order,” Bhattacharya said.

TMC, which started its Tripura chapter in 1999, has been active in the state for the last few weeks since a 23-member team of political strategist Prashant Kishor-led Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) was booked and placed under house arrest inside a hotel here in July. The team, which was detained on the grounds of Covid safety rules being flouted, was freed later.

TMC leaders visiting Tripura since then have claimed that BJP was “scared” following the outcome of the Bengal Assembly polls and was trying to stop them.

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