People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 25

June 20, 2004

        Tripura: Spate Of Kidnappings To Sabotage Polls


WITH the bleakest ever poll prospect staring in the face for the opposition parties in the soon to be held Panchayat polls in the state of Tripura, the political vested interests appeared to have swung into action to trigger ethnic tension by masterminding extremist atrocities. This is abundantly clear from the sudden spurt in incidents of dastardly extremist kidnapping of poor and innocent nontribal people of the state over the last two days in particular and ever since the end of the 14th Lok Sabha polls in general.


In an unusually large scale kidnapping resorted to by the extremists, 24 people, including 22 small nontribal traders, were kidnapped on June 14 from the Jampai Hills, North Tripura, by extremists of the outlawed militant organisation NLFT, the underground wing of the INPT. As is known, the INPT had been the political partner of the Congress party from the year 2001 till the run up to the parliamentary polls when the INPT allied with the BJP in an ostensible bid to gain some extra leverage.


The June 14 mass kidnapping was preceded by two incidents of extremist kidnapping of non-tribal people at Khowai sub-division, West Tripura – the kidnapping of two persons from Lal Tilla by unidentified hooded extremists on June 12, and of five poor jack fruit sellers from Karangicherra of Indo-Bangladesh border area by extremists of the state’s other outlawed militant organisation, ATTF, on June 13.


June 14 was the weekly market day at Kanpui of Jampai Hills area adjoining the Mizoram border with Tripura. A group of 40 small traders headed for Kanpui the previous night in two trucks and a jeep with their commodities. Shortly before reaching their destination, at about 6.30 a m, they were accosted by a group of around 20 NLFT extremists, armed with sophisticated weapons. A police outpost of Mizoram is situated just half a kilometre away from the spot. The extremists kidnapped 25 people, including the two drivers each of the two trucks. As there is a BSF camp 7 km south of the spot, the extremists might have crossed over into Bangladesh through Bhandarima situated south-east, speculate the police. A kilometre into their journey, the extremists released one of the kidnapped people who was suffering from severe stomachache. Immediately after getting information, top officers of the North Tripura Police and state government officials as also the Kanchanpur divisional leaders of the CPI(M) rushed to the spot to assess the situation while the security forces launched combing operations.


Making a statement about the incident in the ongoing assembly session, chief minister Manik Sarkar voiced grave concern over the spurt of extremist atrocities in Tripura following the 14th parliamentary polls. He informed the House that the centre has been apprised of the incident. He also informed that the central government has been asked to pressurise the Bangladesh government into addressing the trans-border terrorism in Tripura, and that the state Government of Mizoram had also been alerted. He pointed out that the under-deployment of the BSF and the CRPF in landlocked Tripura, a legacy of the erstwhile government at the centre, should immediately be reversed by deploying the required 22 BSF battalions as against the 11 battalions stationed at present. He also expressed the hope that the centre would expedite border fencing in Tripura. Pointing out that the site of yesterday’s incident of kidnapping had been under the security cover of the Assam Rifles, recently moved to Manipur by the centre, the chief minister informed the House that the road from which the kidnapping was carried out is used as a corridor for arms smuggling by the extremists. He also vehemently condemned the preceding incident of extremist kidnapping at Khowai of West Tripura and Kamalpur of Dhalai District.