People's Democracy

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


No. 42

October 21, 2012



Tripura Vows Never to Return to Terror Regime

                                                                                                         Rahul Sinha


IT was 2.30 p m sharp on October 12 when the red flag with hammer and sickle went up high into the sky in front of the 42 feet tall Martyrs Monument at Birchandra Manu. The entire lawn reverberated as the volunteers in red shirts shouted “Inquilab Zindabad” and other slogans. The moment unmistakably reminded everyone of a blood-bathed afternoon precisely 24 years ago. This was the very place where, on October 12, 1988, 11 cadres of the CPI(M) including Comrade Sridam Pal, an elected member of the Tripura Tribal Autonomous Areas District Council (TTAADC) were brutally done to death by the goons of the Congress party. And what was their fault? Only that they had dared to hoist their party flag and defied the fatwa of the Congress party, then running the state government of Tripura, not to open the doors of the CPI(M) office which the ruling party had closed down by the use of brute force. Two police personnel who were personal security officers of Sridam Pal were also murdered.




Political murders, though sad and condemnable, are not rare in India. However, the mass killing that Birchandra Manu witnessed on the day was probably the most brutal. But, as it happens in a class divided society like ours, the historians of the ruling classes either neglected it completely or washes their hands off with a bare minimum and distorted mention of it. Yet, in spite of all their attempts, the saga of Birchandra Manu lives on in the memories of generations and tells the epic of self-sacrifice of the communists to uphold the flag of democracy which the ‘sacred’ constitution of the ruling classes had promised to the people.


As we know, the Congress-TUJS coalition government, headed by Sudhir Ranjan Majumdar, came to power in the state in February 1988 through a series of heinous conspiracies. The elections were held in an atmosphere of terror. A banned extremist outfit called the Tripura National Volunteers (TNV) was utilised by the Congress --- as per an infamous agreement between the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and TNV supremo Bijay Rankhwal --- to get 91 innocent people assassinate just a few days before the elections. Then, only 48 hours before the elections, the Disturbed Areas Act was promulgated all over the state. Central paramilitary force entered the state not to nab the terrorists but to harass and detain the CPI(M)’s cadres and to influence the voters in favour of the Congress. When all these proved insufficient, results were rigged at the counting centre at Agartala to get the Congress-TUJS coalition declared victorious. Even then the Left Front got more than 50 per cent of the valid votes counted. As soon as the coalition government took an oath, a reign of unprecedented semi-fascist terror was set in pace all over the state. All the elected bodies from college unions to gram panchayats were dissolved in a totally unconstitutional manner. Hundreds of offices of CPI(M) and Left led mass organisations and trade unions were forcefully captured and shut down by the Congress goons. Hoisting the red flag or distributing the daily Desher Katha was banned. Planned murders of CPI(M) cadres, rape and molestation of women became the order of the day. In those five years till February 1993, near about 350 leaders, cadres and supporters of the CPI(M) were assassinated by the Congress goons.




Hoever, the incident of Birchandra Manu stands tallest among all other incidents --- both in terms of number of casualties in a single incident and the modus operandi behind it.


Like many other CPI(M) party offices in the state, its party office at Birchandra Manu was also captured and closed down. On October 12, 1988, one month after the office was closed, local leaders of the CPI(M) including veteran mass leader and local MLA Brajamohan Jamatia and the CPI(M) Belonia divisional secretariat member and the TTAADC executive member Sridam Pal, along with other prominent party workers went, there to reopen the office. Prior permission from police authorities was obtained and a small meeting was organised in this connection. But just when comrade Brajamohan Jamatia was hoisting the party flag, Congress goons who had planned in advance to assassinate all the prominent leaders of the CPI(M) at a single go started pelting stones and hurling bombs. When the CPI(M) leaders took shelter inside the party office and closed it from inside, the goons attacked the party office, used sharp weapons to break the door open, used kerosene oil in an attempt to set the office afire, and hurled acid inside through the corrugated sheet covering the mud walled office. They finally broke the door open and chopped to death 11 CPI(M) cadres and two PSOs of Sridam Pal one by one. But they could not find Brajamohan Jamatia who was also a prime target of the assassins. He miraculously escaped by jumping down and hiding inside a bamboo bush at the insistence from his government security personnel.


The brutality of the murderers at Birchandra Manu was shuddering, to say the least. The bodies were beheaded; hands and private parts were chopped. The police came late into the night to rescue Brajamohan Jamatia, who spent the night searching and collecting chopped body parts and heads of his comrades.


But the brutality and inhuman treatment had not ended yet. Even after repeated demands the family members were not allowed to take the dead bodies home. These bodies were taken to the banks of Muhuri River, set afire and abandoned half burnt. The brave communists who were murdered included, besides Sridam Pal, Chhatramani Debbarma, Sukharanjan Murrasingh, Nityahari Murrasingh, Gathirai Murrasingh, Sudhir Debnath, Bhadramani Murrasingh, Lalit Noatia, Purnachandra Noatia, Birlal Das and Nitai Sarkar, Ratan Dutta and Amal Biswas. The last two were the PSOs of Comrade Sridam Pal.




In 1993, after the people of Tripura brought the Left Front back to power, the party started observing October 12 every year as the martyrdom day. The party office which was attacked has been preserved in the very shape as it looked after the attack. A huge monument has been built just beside it. Former party general secretary, late Comrade Harkishan Singh Surjeet, inaugurated the monument. This year the CPI(M) state committee had decided to observe the 25th Martyrdom Day to tell the people about the semi-fascist terror of the Congress regime and remind them, especially the younger generation, about the Jungle Raj under the Congress.


The programme started on October 1 with seminars on different topics, sit and draw competitions, cultural programmes, etc, and continued up to October 14. On the 12th,  tribute was paid to the martyrs all over the state. In Agartala, a human chain was formed where the people vowed never to allow the days of terror to return. On October 14, state health minister Tapan Chakraborty inaugurated a primary health centre dedicated to the memory of the martyrs at Birchandra Manu. All over the state the mood of the people was clear. They want peace and development, and for that purpose they are preparing to elect the Left Front again.


On October 12, when CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Manik Sarkar hoisted the flag, the families of the martyrs again broke down in tears. The road adjacent to the lawn where the monument stands high was flooded with people. CPI(M) Central Committee member Badal Choudhury, state secretariat members Niranjan Debbarma and Narayan Kar, leaders of the party and members of the martyrs’ families paid floral tributes at the monument.


This was followed by a huge mass meeting at the Birchandra Manu Martyrs Memorial school ground. Despite incessant raining for two days and the muddy state of the field, the ground was jampacked. The meeting turned out to be a record gathering for the whole South Tripura district, according to reports published in the non-party news media too. The meeting was presided over by Narayan Kar. Besides him and Manik Sarkar, Badal Choudhury, Niranjan Debbarma, CPI leader and state minister Manindra Reang, Paikshit Murrasingh who is a member of the TTAADC and son of the slain comrade Gathirai Murrasingh also spoke in the meeting. Manik Sarkar inaugurated a souvenir to mark the occasion, while another book titled Bleeding Belonia was inaugurated by Badal Choudhury.


Manik Sarkar in his speech said that those who were killed here were communists and history bears testimony to the fact that the ruling classes have time and again tried to annihilate the communists but have never succeeded in suppressing the people’s movement. The Socialist Vietnam, the undaunted Cuba, the victorious Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and the Occupy Wall Street movement shall suffice to prove that the communists can never be wiped out by murders. He said the mass killing at Birchandra Manu was not an isolated incident. Rather the Congress led government, which despite the terror unleashed by it was facing a popular protest led by the CPI(M) against the murder of democracy and misrule, tried to use this incident as an experiment. The Congress tried to give a message through this incident --- that whoever dares to raise voice against it would be silenced forever. These ghastly murders could not have happened without a green signal from those who were running the state government at that time. But their terror tactics have failed because murders cannot annihilate the communists. Sarkar said elections are round the corner. A number of conspiracies are being hatched to unseat the Left Front government. The national political party in opposition and its chauvinistic regional ally are maintaining links with the banned terrorist outfits across the border to rejuvenate them as they know well that winning elections in a free and fair manner is quite impossible. Financial and other kinds of help is being extended to them; attempts are on to recruit new cadres for them by misleading a section of the youth and to launch a large scale mass killing during the festive season or before the polls. We have to be cautious.




The opposition, Sarkar further said, is trying to mislead the masses, telling them there has been no development. Then how the central government run by their own party, the president, the prime minister and ministers have given as many as 17 national awards to Tripura for its successes in different areas of development?  He further said those who are shouting for a parivartan (change) in the state would do well to realise that the people all over the country do want a parivartan but at the centre because the UPA-2 is tainted with corruption and increasingly burdening the masses to appease the corporate houses, foreign and Indian. The BJP is equally corrupt. The people are searching for an alternative which would emerge from struggles against the anti-people policies. We can pay a genuine tribute to the martyrs not by merely remembering their names but by electing the seventh Left Front government in the state with a bigger margin which shall enthuse the countrywide struggle against the central government’s policies.


Badal Choudhury pointed to the dismal failure of the Congress party to annihilate the CPI(M) and the Left Front during 1988-93. Now they are again dreaming of a parivartan. But we have to take the pledge to foil all their tactics, elect the seventh Left Front government and further isolate its enemies from the people.