Several Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M) offices and at least five media centers in the Indian state of Tripura were attacked on Wednesday (8) allegedly by Bharatiya Janata Party cadres ( BJP) currently in power with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Vehicles parked outside the offices were also set on fire.
At least five of the CPI(M)’s main offices were vandalized on Wednesday, including its state headquarters, the West Tripura district administrative division office, the office of a party spokesperson media vehicle, and the office of the state committee of the Center of Indian Trade Unions in the city of Agartala. According to the party, the first floors and ground floors of the buildings were the most affected. Six vehicles parked outside the party offices in Agartala were burned along with motorcycles belonging to left-wing supporters.
The boundaries of the CPI(M) sectional committee office in Melarmath, Agartala, were demolished by the attackers, and then the building was torched using gas cylinders, according to party members. The office in the city of Bishalgarh, part of the Sepahijala district, was also torched. In total, around 20 CPI(M) offices and buildings across the state were vandalized or set on fire, a party member said, noting that the police were unhelpful, and even firefighters were prevented from reaching the sites of the fire. .
Jitendra Chowdhury, a member of the CPI(M) Central Committee in Tripura, said the party estimated that at least 50 of its supporters were injured during the violent actions and more than 30 houses belonging to leftist activists were burned or attacked . Media outlets reported that eleven BJP activists were also injured.
how the violence started
Clashes erupted in Agartala when BJP officials organized a demonstration to protest an alleged attack by CPI(M) officials during former chief minister Manik Sarkar’s rally in Dhanpur on Monday (6). Officials from the “saffron party” (the BJP’s nickname) present at the rally are said to have been the perpetrators of the attacks on the CPI(M) offices in the state capital of Tripura.
The confusion and rumors surrounding Dhanpur appear to have been the source of the violence. According to some journalists and the CPI(M) itself, some BJP officials tried to stop Sarkar’s train. In turn, CPI(M) officials protected the politician and reached the blockade of Kathalia, where a protest would take place. However, on Wednesday (8), clashes broke out in the Sepahijala district, as well as in West Tripura and Gomati.
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Jitendra Chowdhury told Newsclick that clashes took place in Dhanpur during Sarkar’s visit and that violence erupted after newly appointed cabinet minister Sushanta Chowdhury [sem relação com Jitendra, a pesar do mesmo sobrenome], give a press conference from BJP headquarters stating that party officials were under attack and should retaliate and resist the communists.
The wave of violence began on Wednesday in the city of Udaipur, Gomati district, after the youth wing of the CPI(M), known as the Federation of Democratic Youth of India, took a walk demanding jobs. While the CPI(M) claims that BJP-backed henchmen attacked the rally, some reports citing the Police suggest that few activists present at the rally allegedly attacked a nearby BJP activist; a group of BJP activists nearby reacted by attacking the DYFI procession. CPI(M) supporters would then have retaliated, leading to subsequent clashes and violence in Gomati district and then West Tripura, including the towns of Agartala and Sepahijala.
Attacks on media centers
In addition to the office of the Daily Desher Katha, CPI(M) spokesperson, offices of four other media centers were also attacked in Agartala, namely: PB 24, Pratibadi Kalam, Kalmer Shakti and Duranta TV. TV anchor Prasenjit Saha and journalist Partha Sarathi Deb, both of the Daily Desher Katha, were reportedly injured in the attacks.
Participants at the BJP demonstration in Agartala attacked media outlets. Police reported that the event was hosted by the BJP’s state vice president, Rajib Bhattacharjee; besides him, the Times of India he found out the involvement of two party secretaries in organizing the events: Tinku Roy and Papia Datta.
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Left says BJP acts out of fear
“Why is the BJP so afraid of the opposition?” These attacks are reprehensible and must stop at once,” CPI(M) Secretary General Sitaram Yechury said on Twitter, sharing video from one of the burning offices of the party.
At a press conference on Thursday (9), Sarkar told the press that “As the end of the current regime comes closer to an end, they are becoming more distant from the people. This is due to their non-performance – zero performance, as the main issue is the lack of jobs and access to food.” He added that the BJP was scared because people were disappointed with his performance and the mass participation in demonstrations and meetings of protest from the left was increasing.
While CPI(M) members told Newsclick they had never seen such violence in Agartala, Jitendra Chowdhury said it was the culmination of the violence the BJP has unleashed on the Left since its rise to power in Tripura just over three years ago behind. However, no culprits were arrested in these cases, which guaranteed impunity for BJP supporters, said Chowdhury.
“There is great dissatisfaction with the BJP. They have no vision for the future. With only one and a half to the state elections, they are betting on terrorism”, he added.
*With information from Newsclick.
Edition: Thales Schmidt