Tripura Lynching: Regional Party Says Fourth Man Attacked Is Now Missing

Meanwhile, opposition parties and civil society has severely condemned the incident in which three people were killed by a mob on suspicion of them being cattle lifters.

Agartala: Days after a mob lynched three men from Sepahijala district in Tripura on suspicion that they were cattle lifters, a regional party has alleged that a fourth man was also attacked and that he is missing now.

The regional Tripura People’s Party on Tuesday, June 22, met with family members of the deceased at Sonamura and then the Director General of Police V.S. Yadav. Before meeting the DGP, the joint secretary of the party, Pravin Sinha claimed that there were four youths who were attacked and that one of them was now missing. All of them were daily labourers, Sinha said.

A police officer from Khowai district told The Wire that a search was on for the allegedly missing person.

A senior police officer told The Wire that the three people who were killed were “habitual offenders” and had allegedly attempted to attack police officers a few months ago.

Both officers requested anonymity.

“We are investigating the crime and whether the three had stolen the cows. However, people should not take the law in their own hands. As per preliminary investigation, we have found that 30-40 villagers had gathered to lynch the trio. We have identified few people out of them,” the officer said.

The deceased were identified as Jayed Hossain (30), Billal Miah (28), and Saiful Islam (18), all residents of the Sonamura subdivision which is a bordering village under Sepahijala district around 50 km away from the state capital.

Jayed Hossain’s mother told reporters at GB Pant Hospital that her son left home a day before he was killed, with Billal Miah. She was not aware of why he had left home.

Jayed Hossain’s parents at their house. Photo: Asish Miah

Since 2018, unsubstantiated rumours of child kidnappers and kidney smuggling rackets have led to mob violence in Tripura.

In July 2018 after a direction by the Supreme Court, the BJP-led Tripura government framed rules for compensating families of mob violence victims and passed the Tripura Lynching/Violence/Mob Violence Compensation Scheme, 2018.

As per compensation rules, the state government will pay Rs 4 lakh to the families of people who die in mob violence, Rs 2 lakh to those who are crippled with 80% injuries, Rs 1 lakh in case of 40-80% injuries, Rs 95,000 for those who sustain damages in their ‘pucca’ houses or shops, and Rs 50,000 for damages in ‘kutchha’ houses or shops.

The Tripura Human Rights Organisation has condemned the incident, demanded a judicial enquiry and Rs 10 lakh in compensation from the government for families of each victim.

Purushottam Roy Barman, who leads the organisation, blamed the state government for failing in spreading sufficient awareness, general lawlessness and a reported whispering campaign by right-wing forces against minority communities on cow-related issues leading to repeated lynching cases.

Opposition reaction

Royal scion and chairman of TIPRA Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma called the incident, “a public murder” and “unacceptable”.

Tripura opposition leader and former chief minister Manik Sarkar also strongly condemned the incident and demanded a high level investigation and arrest of the culprits.

Sarkar also said that the police administration has grown weak in the last three and half years of BJP-IPFT rule, owing to which such incidents have occurred.

‘Scuffle between two persons’

Reacting to Sarkar’s statement, BJP spokesperson Subrata Chakraborty said, “They (CPIM) are talking about mob lynching, in that case, we have to look at the time of Jyoti Basu in West Bengal when thousands were killed. Even during the time of Manik Sarkar many cases were reported. Manik Sarkar should explain about mob lynching [during his time].”

He also added, “If a scuffle has taken place between two persons, can that be called lynching? They (CPIM) are misleading people. When they were in power whatever has happened was usual but when out of power, they start rumour-mongering.”

Subrata said that the incident was “unfortunate” and said the law will investigate and do the needful.

“We do not support such incidents and these should not be happening in the state. We have said earlier if anyone is found guilty they should be punished,” Subrata said.

Chakraborty said that the incident “does not look like mob lynching”, but that people took the law in their own hands which is also unwelcome.

“Committing one crime to punish another person is not welcome and will not be supported,” the BJP leader added.