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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Citizenship bill protests: Students block NH8 in Tripura, 5 hurt in police lathi charge, blank fire

NESO called an 11-hour North East bandh from 5 am till 4 pm in eight states of North East India on Tuesday in protest against the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 which is scheduled to be placed before the Parliament for voting soon.

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala | Updated: January 8, 2019 5:14:10 pm
TSR and police personnel deployed in huge numbers at Khumulwng in West Tripura after clashes between NESO supporters and policemen during a strike call on Tuesday over proposed citizenship bill. (Source: Debraj Deb)

At least five persons were injured, with two sustaining bullet injuries, during a clash between policemen and North East Students’ Organization (NESO) supporters at Khumulwng, headquarters of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), nearly 25 Km from Agartala, on Tuesday.

NESO called an 11-hour North East bandh from 5 am till 4 pm in eight states of North East India on Tuesday in protest against the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 which is scheduled to be placed before the Parliament for voting soon.

Twipra Students’ Federation (TSF), which is a partner student body of NESO, set up a blockade in several parts of West Tripura district today as part of the strike. However, few hours after the stir started, a section of picketers got infuriated and set some shops ablaze. In order to control the mob, police fired tear gas shells and four rounds of bullets. Four protesters sustained bullet wounds and are being treated at Govind Ballabh Pant (GBP) Hospital in Agartala.

Speaking to Indianexpress.com, an official from the Tripura Police headquarters said that NESO supporters blockaded National Highway 8 at Dasharampara in Jirania sub-division, 17 Km from here at 9:30 am this morning. The agitation was later shifted to Madhabbari area, close to Khumulwng – TTADC headquarters at 12:30 pm.

“They blockaded the National Highway, burnt tyres and acted unruly. The local administration imposed section 144 in the area but their agitation continued. Police issued lathi charge to disperse the crowd around 1:30 PM. Shortly afterwards, they set few local shops on fire,” the official informed.

Later this afternoon, West Tripura Superintendent of Police Ajit Pratap Singh said the protesters turned violent burnt down shops, obstructing National Highway due to which police resorted to mild lathi charge and fired blank rounds in the air. He said few injured persons were shifted to a hospital but declined to give any numbers.

As per reports, two TSF supporters who sustained bullet injuries were referred to GBP Hospital in Agartala along with a few others who were wounded during the police lathi charge. Officer-in-charge of Jirania Police Station Soumen Das said 2-3 policemen were injured during the clashes as well.

However, TSF general secretary Sunil Debbarma claimed their agitation was peaceful until few Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) supporters reached the spot and teased the picketers.

“Some of the boys and young and might have got emotional, due to which this incident (arson) happened,” Sunil said.

He also alleged that police issued lathi charge and fired four rounds “aiming” at the picketers, indicating that they shot to kill.

“Four of us sustained bullet injuries. Two of them were referred to GBP Hospital from Khumulwng Hospital, which is close to the spot. But some TSR jawans halted it, damaged the vehicle and sent the injured back to the spot of agitation. Later, Superintendent of Police arrived and the injured were sent to GBP Hospital with his help,” the tribal student leader informed.

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