Tripura’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday accused banned insurgent outfits of campaigning in favour of Congress for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections and demanded that the Election Commission of India (ECI) take immediate action against them.
“Outlawed All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) and National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) were involved in mass murders. They are now campaigning for Congress among tribal villages of the state. NLFT Self styled Secretary Utpal Debbarma alias Uthai has asked people to vote for Congress. We have got record of his appeal. We have complained with the ECI along with CD,” BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya told a press conference here this evening.
BJP’s allegation came shortly after a local Kokborok (lingua franca of Tripura tribes) television channel telecasted a recording where one Utpal Debbarma, self-styled Secretary of NLFT, appealed to the people to vote for Congress. He also purportedly threatened those involved in an attack on Congress Lok Sabha candidate Pragya Debbarma of teaching them a lesson.
A first-time politician and Lok Sabha contestant, Pragya is contesting from East Tripura (ST reserved) Lok Sabha constituency this year against sitting CPI (M) MP Jitendra Chaudhury, BJP’s Rebati Mohan Tripura and Tripura’s ruling alliance partner IPFT supremo NC Debbarma. She was purportedly attacked on her way back from a public meeting in Khowai district on April 18 by ruling IPFT supporters.
Reacting to the allegations, Tripura Congress vice president Tapas Dey said BJP is trying to malign Congress out of desperation since they have lost their support base.
“We don’t want to stop low to answer these baseless allegations. There is no militant link with Congress. These allegations we’re earlier raised by CPI (M) and are now said by BJP. They are different sides of the same coin,” Dey said.
BJP also alleged that banned ATTF supremo Ranjit Debbarma, who was arrested in Bangladesh in 2012, was spotted with state Congress president Pradyot Kishore Debburman during poll campaigns.
BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya said that his party has submitted a complaint about the involvement of militants with Congress with video footage to the Election Commission of India.
“We have repeatedly informed the involvement of insurgent outfit ATTF chief with the PCC president and that they have been spreading venomous motives as part of their election campaign in various parts of Wes Tripura constituency,” Bhattacharya added.
He expressed dissatisfaction over the role of ECI and said the Commission did not take appropriate steps despite a number of complaints against the banned militant leaders.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Arindam Nath said that a General Diary (GD) was registered at Champahower police station in Khowai district about threats issued from a self-styled insurgent leader from NLFT which was telecasted in a local channel.
“A local TV channel telecasted a record where self-styled NLFT foreign secretary Utpal Debbarma threatened people involved with attack on Congress Lok Sabha candidate Pragya Debbarma. He threatened them of identifying and teaching them a lesson. If there is any possibility of attack on them, we shall take necessary measures,” the DIG said.
Later this evening, Chief Electoral Officer Sriram Taranikanti said he is aware of a complaint being filed about the involvement of militancy during the poll campaign. “We have just received the complaint. We shall look into it and take necessary actions,” he said.
The MHA earlier declared NLFT and ATTF along with all their factions, wings and front organizations as unlawful associations in a Gazette Notification in 2013. An Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal was formed by MHA on November 15 last year led by Delhi High Court Judge Suresh Kait to record evidence against the two outfits.
NLFT was formed on March 12, 1989 with Dhananjoy Reang as its self-styled chairman. Reang was later expelled from NLFT in 1993 and Nayanbasi Jamatia became the leader of the faction. In another split in 2001, a faction led by one Biswamohan Debbarma emerged, which is now the main active wing of the outfit. The outfit was outlawed in 1997 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and later under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).
ATTF was formed as All Tripura Tribal Force (ATTF) on July 11, 1990 by a group of former Tripura National Volunteers (TNV) cadres under the leadership of Ranjit Debbarma. Though TNV surrendered arms as per a peace accord with the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988, the Ranjit Debbarma faction dissociated themselves and rechristened itself as ATTF. ATTF surrendered en masse in 1993 as per ATTF Peace Accord but the Ranjit Debbarma faction continued insurgency till 2012.