Tripura royal scion Pradyot Deb Barman has set a seven-day deadline for the government to act against a mob that allegedly lynched Tripura Fire Service personnel Biswajit Debbarma during violent protests against the resettlement of Bru tribals a week ago.
Things got out of hand as the police moved in to drive away protesters at Panisagar.
A former Congress leader, Deb Barman threatened to launch an extensive agitation if the government didn’t act against the mob.
Speaking to reporters at the Ujjayanta Palace annexe building on Thursday, Deb Barman said nobody would feel safe in Tripura unless those who, brutally assaulted and killed a fireman on duty, aren’t brought to justice.
A video clip of the alleged assault has gone viral on social media.
“A video clip, in which the mob is seen lynching Biswajit Debbarma, is available online. I have seen it several times. They (the accused) are clearly seen passing instructions to beat him. One is even heard exhorting the crowd to remove Biswajit’s helmet and beat him with an intent to kill. They are all in the video. How is it possible that they haven’t been apprehended yet?” said Deb Barman, who runs an NGO named Tripura Indigenous Peoples Regional Alliance (TIPRA).
He warned that unless the police take exemplary action against those involved in the lynching within a week, he would launch a movement on December 8.
The date is significant as it marks one year of the scion’s last major agitation against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
The fireman was the second casualty of the clash which also claimed the life of 46-year-old Srikanta Das, a carpenter who joined a road blockade. He died as the police allegedly opened fire on protesters blocking National Highway-8.
While the state government ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident and announced compensation for the kin of the dead, Deb Barman said he provided Rs 50,000 as immediate assistance to the bereaved families and would provide another Rs 50,000 on the day of their Shraddh (memorial service).
However, expressing anguish over what he called government inaction and failure to arrest anyone involved in the incident, the scion and activist said, “If peace has to prevail in Tripura, the law must take its own course”.
Deb Barman, who resigned as state Congress president in September, 2019, said his former party colleagues as well as leaders of the ruling BJP and opposition CPI(M) were involved in the movement that led to violent clashes.
Twenty-three years after ethnic clashes in Mizoram forced 37,000 people from the Bru (or Reang) community to flee to neighbouring Tripura, an agreement was signed in January to allow 32,000 of them, stationed in camps, to settle permanently in the state. The royal scion was instrumental in brokering the resettlement deal with the Centre and the governments of Mizoram and Tripura.
The deal, though received jubilantly by the migrant camps, fuelled resentment among local Bengali and Mizo communities, who claimed that having thousands of migrants settle permanently at Kanchanpur sub-division of North Tripura would result in demographic imbalance, put more strain on local resources and might even lead to law and order problems in future.
The Brus have been living in six relief camps in the area since their arrival in 1997.
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