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Activists, Students Protest in Delhi Against BJP's 'Silence' on Tripura Anti-Muslim Violence

The protesters demanded the resignation of Tripura CM Biplab Deb over the state's alleged failure to protect Muslim minorities as well as the deafening silence of the BJP leadership. 

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New Delhi: Calling out the anti-Muslim violence in Tripura, citizens’ groups, activists and students on October 29, Friday, organised a protest rally in New Delhi against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s allegedly lackadaisical response to the law and order situation in the northeastern state. 

Delhi Police detained the protesters who started their rally from Tripura Bhawan.

On October 26, a mosque was ransacked and a few shops and houses were vandalised during a rally organised by right-wing groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Hindu Jagran Manch in Tripura against communal violence in Bangladesh. These shops and houses reportedly belonged to Muslim families.

The Tripura Police, however, said that the law and order situation in the state is “absolutely normal” and no mosque has been burnt there. The police’s statement came two days after the communal attacks on Muslims during a rally led by Hindutva groups in Chamtilla district in Panisagar sub-division of North Tripura district.

The state administration also imposed Section 144 of the code of criminal procedure (CrPC), which prohibits the congregation of more than five people. 

At least seven people died after temples were desecrated and at least 20 homes of Hindus were torched in Bangladesh earlier this month after rumours spread that the Quran had been insulted in a Durga Puja pandal. 

“Muslims are feeling insecure as the silence of both the state and people against the attacks on Muslims in Tripura speaks volumes. We do not want this to be called a ‘clash’ when our fellow citizens are under targeted attack in the state. Our very identity is under threat and we are here to reiterate that we need support and answers from the state,” said Faiza, a student of Jamia Millia Islamia, who was present at the protest in Delhi.

Also read: Minority Politics: Notes on How Muslims Have Been Political in India

The protesters demanded the resignation of Tripura chief minister Biplab Deb over the government’s alleged failure to protect Muslim minorities in the state as well as the silence of the BJP leadership. 

Speaking to The Wire, Shaikh Ghulam Jilani, general secretary of NCP, who was also present at the protest site, said: “The BJP has absolutely failed the country and the residents of Tripura. They could have controlled the law and order situation in the state but have absolutely failed to do so. We want the resignation of the state leadership over the issue.” 

While the BJP has said that they have set up a five-member committee which comprises people from minority communities to look into the issue, the opposition parties have said the matter is being used as a “poll plank”.

Jitendra Choudhury, member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) and a former member of parliament from Tripura East, told The Wire, “The polarisation in the state is being created and used as an electoral plank by the BJP. Since Dussehra the state witnessed attacks on mosques, vandalisation of shops and communal tensions. Despite this, there is a deafening silence from the Modi government over the issue.” 

Criticising the government over the alleged attacks, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a tweet said that the government is “pretending” that there is no problem in the northeastern state.

“Our Muslim brothers are being brutalised in Tripura. Those who do hatred and violence in the name of Hindu are not Hindus, they are hypocrites. How long will the government continue to pretend to be blind and deaf?” Gandhi tweeted.

 

Tripura’s total population is around four million, of which Muslims account for less than 10%. The targeted attacks on minorities allegedly by right-wing groups have raised questions not just on the party leadership and the impunity they offer to vigilante groups, but the saffron party’s association with these organisations. 

Faiz Siddiqui, an activist, told The Wire, “We are expecting more from our government. This is a betrayal of the promises the BJP had made in the state as well as a complete denial of human rights and basic dignity offered to us.”