Express News Service
GUWAHATI: At least a dozen mosques were targeted in Tripura during the bout of violence which started about a week ago, the Tripura State Jamiat Ulama (Hind) alleged on Thursday.
Even as there seems to be an atmosphere of fear with everyone, including a retired judge who heads a rights organisation, refusing to comment on the incidents, the Tripura State Jamiat Ulama said while one mosque was set on fire, 11-12 others were vandalised and damaged.
“A portion of the Ichacherra mosque was damaged following arson. Elsewhere, the mosques were vandalised or their signboards etc damaged,” Mufti Tayebur Rahman, who is the president of Tripura State Jamiat Ulama, told The New Indian Express.
Stating that some of the attacks were carried out at night, he said the Hindus helped repair one or two mosques. The last of the incidents occurred in Panisagar on Tuesday during a procession taken out by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
The state’s Minority Affairs Minister Ratanlal Nath played down the violence, claiming that there was just one incident and it was “not an attack”.
“It was an isolated incident which occurred at a particular place. Section 144 of the CrPC has been already clamped (in Panisagar and Dharmanagar sub-divisions of the North Tripura district). Other steps were also taken immediately,” Nath told this newspaper on Thursday.
He said political and administrative steps were taken side by side. He also said that a team had visited the violence-hit area to thwart the escalation of the problem.
“It was not like the incidents taking place in Bangladesh and not an attack. Only one person had hit (a mosque) during a procession. A shop was put on fire but it was doused soon after by the firefighters,” the minister said.
He was referring to the incident in Panisagar. Violence was also reported from Dharmanagar.
The BJP’s Panisagar MLA, Binay Bhushan Das said three shops were torched and three to four houses damaged. He said a mosque was also “partially vandalised”. “The attack was carried out during a VHP procession by elements participating in it or by others. Since the Opposition parties have been for long looking for opportunities to tarnish the BJP’s image, I don’t rule out their involvement,” the MLA said.
He said Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb had insisted on the maintenance of peace and communal harmony and directed him to talk to the administration and ensure that the culprits were punished early.
The Tripura Police said, “Old videos are being circulated on social media regarding the Panisagar Masjid” and fake IDs created on the social media to spread rumours.
The police said the situation was normal and meetings were being organised among communities for the maintenance of harmony.
“The situation is perfectly normal. We have deployed sufficient manpower. A peace meeting was held yesterday (Wednesday) at Dharmanagar and another at Panisagar today (Thursday),” a senior police officer said.
The CPI-M and the Trinamool Congress accused the BJP of supporting the right-wing organisations to gain political mileage in the civic polls next month and the Assembly elections in 2023, a charge which the BJP trashed.
The Congress staged a sit-in demonstration on Thursday in protest against the “attacks on the houses of the Muslims and arson at the mosque by BJP goons”.
State Congress president Birajit Sinha alleged the right-wing organisations were attacking mosques and torching the houses and shops of Muslims during processions.
“We are a secular country but the BJP doesn’t understand secularism. It tries to secure votes by fanning communal passions but the people of Tripura are now politically conscious. They are fed up with the BJP for looting the state and failing on its commitments,” Sinha said.