Fresh BJP-CPM clashes erupt in Tripura; vehicles burnt, party offices targeted


Two days after seemingly unrelated clashes broke out between ruling BJP and opposition CPM supporters in two villages of Tripura’s Sepahijala district, fresh violence and arson was reported at four more places, including Agartala, on Wednesday.

Around 10 people were injured, two CPM offices were gutted and at least six vehicles were set ablaze in the latest clashes said authorities. The CPM’s state headquarters was also targeted, said, party leaders.

The fresh violence broke out at Udaipur in Gomati district, Bishalgarh in Sepahijala district, and in Hapania and Agartala’s Melarmath area in West Tripura district. The CPM’s state headquarters in Agartala, sadar organisational district headquarters and a local party office came under attack during the violence.

Police used lathicharge and burst tear gas shells to bring the situation under control.

Both parties later held press conferences to accuse to each other of indulging in violence.

An officer at the Tripura police headquarters told the media that preliminary reports into the violence have been prepared. “Full assessment is yet to be done. Around six vehicles, including three cars and a few motorcycles, were burnt in Agartala,” said a senior police officer. “Political party offices at Bishalgarh and Hapania were gutted. A party office at Udaipur also came under attack. A youth identified as Mafiz Miah was injured there. A case was lodged in the incident and two persons were arrested.”


Vehicles set ablaze after clashes between BJP and CPM workers in Agartala. (PTI)

During the clashes, the offices of local newspapers Pratibadi Kalam and CPM mouthpiece Daily Desher Katha, and local TV channel PB 24 were also targeted.

The CPM alleged that Left youth supporters were holding a road blockade at Udaipur when BJP supporters attacked them. At Bishalgarh, the party alleged, a group of BJP workers targeted the vacant CPM district headquarters, and set it on fire after vandalising it.

At a press conference, Tripura Left Front convener Bijan Dhar said, “We had a party meeting at Bishalgarh. On our way back, we learnt that BJP cadres got a bulldozer, tore down our district party office gate, broke open the doors and set it ablaze. Our party leader Partha Pratim Majumder’s house was ransacked as well.”

On the Udaipur violence, he said, “Youths [wing of the party] had organised a rally to demand jobs. The rally was halted by the police despite having prior permission. Our supporters staged a road blockade. There was a huge tension and the local district headquarter was attacked.”

About the clashes in Agartala, Dhar said the CPM sadar organisational district committee office was ransacked and later the party’s state headquarters in Melarmath was attacked. “They came inside the state headquarters. I was there. I tried to stop them but they disregarded me, damaged party documents, smashed photo frames of our leaders, destroyed television sets and threatened us to stop our political activities. Some cars and motorcycles were set on fire in front of our office as well,” he said.

CPM leaders said the party’s state headquarters was targeted after some people participating in a BJP rally started an altercation with Left supporters in front of party offices in Melarmath area, where both the state headquarters and district headquarters are located in different buildings away from each other.

While Dhar termed the violence as a “direct attack on democracy”, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury later tweeted: “Why is BJP so terrified of the Opposition? These attacks are reprehensible and must stop at once.”

Reacting to the allegations, BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya said at a media briefing later that his party workers did not attack anyone, instead seven of them were assaulted by CPM activists.

“We have noticed that CPM leaders are involved in instigating violence in the state in the last few days. Former chief minister Manik Sarkar instigated his party cadres to attack BJP at Sonamura two days ago,” he alleged, referring to the clashes at Dhanpur and Bashpukur villages in the sub-division.

“In Udaipur, one of our activists was injured in an attack today. Our women activists were also attacked with bricks during our rally in Agartala as they were organising a protest march against the violence at Sonamura,” he said, adding that seven BJP activists were injured according to latest reports.

On the alleged attack on Daily Desher Katha newspaper, Bhattacharya said, “We are sorry if it has happened. It might have happened by mistake. Our top leaders will discuss it, and if it is true, required steps will be taken.”