Prohibitory orders put in place in Agartala on Wednesday were extended by 48 hours as a group of terminated teachers continued their protests, West Tripura District Magistrate said on Wednesday evening.
Section 144 was initially imposed for 24 hours starting 6am on Wednesday in the Agartala Municipal Corporation area. Trouble started in the morning after the police dismantled the makeshift tent, where the teachers had been holding the protest, and detained around 300 agitators. On Wednesday, more than 40 were reported injured in the lathicharge, water cannon and tear gas used by the police. Seven policemen were also injured after a clash with the protesters and three public vehicles were damaged, Indian Express reported.
Water cannons and teargas were fired to disperse the teachers who are part of the Joint Movement Committee of 10323. They were protesting near the Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb’s residence against their termination.
Notwithstanding the restrictions, even as the police tried to stop them, the protesters set out on a march to the CM’s residence. A scuffle ensued, following which the police lathicharged the agitators, burst tear gas shells and sprayed them with water.
The demonstrators, in retaliation, ransacked vehicles of police and district officials. “We had information that the movement could turn into a violent protest and there were chances of breach of peace. The district magistrate had announced that prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC have been imposed around the CM’s residence. So the gathering was illegal,” Additional Superintendent of Police Shasvat Kumar said.
According to a member of the Joint Movement Committee (JMC) — a forum created by the terminated teachers — the Tripura police dismantled the tent without any warning, when the agitators were still asleep.
“Many teachers were detained forcibly by the police and taken to Tripura State Rifles (TSR) camps near here. We are not criminals. Why did the government use force?” Kamal Deb, a leader of the forum, said here, adding that several protesters sustained injuries in the melee. Inspector General (law and order) Arindam Nath told reporters that police applied force “judiciously and with a human face”.
“Under no circumstances, we could have allowed the protest near the CM’s residence,” he added.
Over 10,000 government school teachers were sacked last year, in accordance with a 2014 high court order, which said that their recruitment process was a faulty one. The Supreme Court later upheld the verdict. The teachers, demanding permanent jobs, have been sitting on a dharna for the last 52 days.
(With PTI inputs)