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Tripura minister smells ‘political conspiracy’ in protest against selection process of reserve battalions

The state police Monday published a list of 1,443 candidates, including 138 women, selected for the posts of Rifleman and Rifleman (tradesman) for two new IR battalions of TSR – Tripura’s own counter-insurgency force.

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala |
December 30, 2021 10:21:25 pm

Amidst protests from a section of candidates who failed in the selection tests meant for raising two new India Reserve (IR) battalions of the Tripura State Rifles (TSR), the state government Thursday said a conspiracy is at work by certain people trying to reap political mileage with baseless allegations on the issue.

The state police Monday published a list of 1,443 candidates, including 138 women, selected for the posts of Rifleman and Rifleman (tradesman) for two new IR battalions of TSR – Tripura’s own counter-insurgency force. The recruitment process was notified in 2019.

Soon after the list was announced, a group of aggrieved candidates said they cleared the written and physical tests but were still wrongfully deprived. Many candidates who finally made it to the merit list had actually winded up after a few rounds in the running test and couldn’t clear the physicals, they claimed, and alleged corruption in the recruitment process.

In the next 72 hours, at least three BJP party offices were ransacked in west and south Tripura districts, which the ruling BJP described as a conspiracy of “Opposition political forces” to destabilise peace and tranquillity in the state.

Speaking to, Tripura Information and Cultural Affairs (ICA) minister Sushanta Chowdhury said that only the first phase of the recruitment was done and the government would consider inducting more policemen in the latter phases. He also alleged many of those who came in front of the High Court to protest were not even candidates in the TSR recruitment process and came only to reap political mileage.

“These are all baseless, concocted allegations since the Opposition forces are finding no other political issue. Those who got a befitting reply during the last municipal elections are trying to catch fish in turbid waters and confuse people,” the minister said.

Clarifying that the recruitment process is not fully complete, Chowdhury said the TSR battalions in question are IR battalions and rules of the Government of India had to be met in the induction process.

“Officials of ADG and IG levels were present (to supervise) in the process. If 15-20 thousand candidates cleared the written test and interview, the rest would have to be shortlisted from the viva voce. If someone thinks they would get jobs because they cleared the physical or written tests…(it is not right). These 1,443 candidates were shortlisted based on talent and transparency,” the minister said.

A group of youths Wednesday gathered in front of the High Court of Tripura and claimed although Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb assured in September this year that 2,200 candidates would be inducted for the TSR battalions, only 1,443 have been recruited so far.

Some of them said they would file a petition challenging the recruitment process at the High Court. However, no petition was submitted to the court till latest reports came in.

The aggrieved candidates gathered near the High Court complex Thursday again and blocked the busy VIP Road. Speaking to reporters later this evening, New Capital Complex (NCC) Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Piya Madhuri Majumder said, “We detained nearly 75 protesters after they blocked the road in front of the High Court and took them to Arundhatinagar Police Grounds. They didn’t have prior permission to protest here. They were later released”.

Meanwhile, Tripura convener of Trinamool Congress Subal Bhowmik said, “Many qualified candidates were deprived of their jobs and massive corruption was involved in the recruitment process. We want justice to be delivered to the candidates and demand a judicial enquiry be held with a High Court judge on the issue.”

Reacting to the issue, BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya said the BJP-led state government made its policy of transparency clear from day one and there should not be any issue of corruption. He said while the police would investigate the issue since it is a criminal issue, his party would hold its own internal enquiry on the allegations of corruption. “I believe no worker of BJP who believes in their ideals will ever do such things,” he said.

On the attacks on BJP party offices, Bhattacharya said, “BJP workers can never attack BJP party offices. There is some deep conspiracy behind this. We have filed FIRs at the local level and we hope the police will investigate and find out the truth. We suspect Opposition political forces are behind the conspiracy. They seem to be doing everything together.”

Shortly after assuming office in March, 2018, the Chief Minister had said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has approved two additional India Reserve (IR) battalions for TSR for Tripura and a fund of Rs 50 crore was sanctioned to raise the battalions.

A year later, the Centre relaxed the recruitment norms for SC and ST candidates as the state government was facing some problems in inducting the jawans.

TSR was formed according to the Tripura State Rifles Act, 1983 passed in the Tripura Legislative Assembly. The first battalion of the force came into existence on March 12, 1984. Currently, there are twelve battalions of TSR in the state.

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