Protest rallies were organised at various places in Tripura by the Vishva Hindu Parishad, against the attack on a Puja Mandap in Bangladesh last week. Even Muslim organisations were protesting the anti-minority attack in the neighbouring country.
On 21 October, a rally was organised at Dharmanagar in North Tripura district, under the initiative of Vishva Hindu Parishad, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bajrang Dal and people who assembled from different parts of the locality. Speakers from VHP and RSS at the rally called upon Hindus to unite, claiming that as “Hindus are fragmenting into Dass, Pals and Brahmins, Islam is using the opportunity.”
“If Hindus in India unite, Muslims who constitute 15% of the population will not be able to survive for even 15 minutes,” rally leaders told the crowd. Dharmanagar, the second-largest urban locality in Tripura, was shaken up by the war cries of “Jai Sri Ram” and “Jai Bhavani”.
A group from the same procession attacked Abdul Basith Khan’s house in broad daylight. Khan is a prominent lawyer in the state. There was no one in the house. Though there was a mosque of the Waqf Board next door, attempts to attack it was unsuccessful as the gate was closed. That night, these groups set fire to a mosque about 200m away from Panisagar Sub-Divisional Magistrate office.
On 26 October, another rally, with war cries, were organised In North Tripura’s Panisagar. The Hindu mob rushed towards Chamtila like floodwater. The violent mob went on a rampage at Chamtila mosque. The interior of the mosque was destroyed.
The slogans of the ‘Hunkaar Rally’ were extremely anti-Muslim and violent, including the derogatory language used towards the Prophet Muhammad.“Tripura me mullagiri nehi chalega” (“Tripura is no place for Muslim theology”), “Muhammad tera baap ka naam – Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram” (“Muhammad is your common father – Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram”), “Love jihadiyo husiyar” (“Beware, Love JIhadists!”), etc.
In Roa, the attackers targeted Muslim families, entered their houses and ransacked the belongings. Women were harassed. People had to flee from these packs of hyenas and look for refuge in a mosque 100 metres away to save their lives. These groups also set fire to about eight shops owned by Muslims in Roa Bazaar. The shops were reduced to ashes by the blazing flames of the massive fire.
The Muslims were terrified when they saw the terrible fires from a distance and realised that the mosque would be attacked next. The Imaam called for the collective defence of the mosque and the lives of those who had taken refuge inside. They somehow managed to protect the premises as people gathered together despite being a small population in terms of numbers.
At present, there is still unrest all around. That same night, Hindutva groups ransacked several shops owned by Muslims in the Churaibari Railway Tri-junction area. Two cars were destroyed. TSR and CRPF were deployed in the area at night.
The same Hindu neighbours with who the Muslims had co-existed till now, are today attacking their Muslim neighbours. Muslims of Tripura are deeply shocked, and the region has taken a form that has taken everyone by surprise.
An act of injustice cannot be righted by another act of injustice. The hostility of the majority population towards Muslims must be deep-rooted, otherwise, it would not have been possible for thousands of people to organise such ‘Hunkar Rallies.’
The government must punish those who are spreading such violence in the state. So that such incidents do not repeat in future and peace and harmony are maintained.
Tania Khanam is a student from Dharmanagar, North Tripura.