Snapshot of Tripura – Past and Present

The former kingdom of Twipra or the current Tripura is one of the smallest states in the country. Geographical area of Tripura is 10,49,169 hectares with about 2,80,000 hectares of cultivable land. The former Twipra kingdom, one of the ancient princely states, was ruled by as many as 184 Borok (Indigenous) kings in succession prior to its merger with Indian Union on 15th Oct. 1949.
Migration of Bengali Hindus from erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, became a major issue soon after the merger with the Indian Union. About 80% of Tripura borders with the present Bangladesh. Migration resulted into the ‘minoritisation’ of the indigenous population. The indigenous population is about 31% according to the 1991 census.
Militarization of the Tripura state began in the 1980 as the year marked the large-scale induction of Security Forces and the Disturbed Areas Act was imposed for the first time in Twipra. Information gathered from human rights activists show that in addition to the Tripura Police and the Tripura State Rifles, the Army, the BSF, the CRPF and even 1000 jawans of the Rajasthan Armed Constabulary (RAC) were also deployed. Presently there are 61 Police Stations in the state and out of which 28 Police Stations are brought under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and another 6 Police Stations are declared partially disturbed. Later, the presence of Army and Paramilitary Forces have subsequently reduced from Twipra and replaced by the Tripura State Rifles (TSR) that consists of 13th Battalions.
Local tribes informed that there are about 19 tribes in Tripura and again these tribes have sub tribes. There are about 8 tribal languages and Kok Borok is the most common one. Each tribe has different costumes with different names. Rice specially sticky rice called Auwan or Gurian Maira is the most important component of the ethnic cuisine which is usually served in a leaf called Lairu Blai. Hoza Giri, a traditional dance, is quite famous and requires special skill to perform.
Religious minority community in Tripura consists of Christians, Buddhists and Muslims. Local Jamatia tribal people informed that though they don’t celebrate puja, they ‘contribute’ financially during the celebration. Few individuals also informed that Muslims were about 45% of the total population in Tripura during independence but now they are about 9%. The reduction in percentage of Muslim population is due to the fact that Muslims were forced to immigrate to East Pakistan or later Bangladesh as informed by some individuals in Agartala.
Lots of transitions have taken place in Tripura since its merger. Several armed groups were formed and later many returned to the ‘mainstream’ and some even joined politics as well. But seems the culture of impunity remained a norm in Tripura as various cases of violence are still waiting for justice.
Following is the chronology of the instances of violence that are still fresh in people’s mind. (These cases are summarized based on the discussions and sharings with different local people in Tripura and are not supported by documentary evidences)
1. Communal Riot in 1980: Mandai massacre could be the most horrifying massacre of 1980 where about 200 Bengalis were murdered at a place called Mandai about 60 kms away from the capital Agartala. Time magazine described the incident as, ‘the jackal still wails in Tripura, but a hundred villages are silent. Ever since native tribesmen sacked scores of Bengali immigrant settlements in the northeastern Indian state a fortnight ago, the stench of dead bodies has filled the air. In the worst massacre, in the village of Mandai, the tribals first demanded money, then corralled the Bengalis in the village market. The horrified settlers were forced to watch while tribesmen armed with guns, spears and heavy scythes called daos put the torch to dwellings and butchered their occupants. "There was blood everywhere," says Haradhem Seal, 20, a Bengali barber whose entire family—parents, three brothers and three sisters —were murdered. "One man hacked at me with his dao. I collapsed, then several bodies fell on top of me. That was probably what saved me." When Indian border forces arrived ten hours later, they found 350 bodies stacked in heaps along a narrow strip of road. Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,924255,00.html#ixzz1BOk…
2. Gang rape by Assam Rifle’s Jawans at Ujanmaidan from 31st May- 2nd June 1988
In 1980s, the entire state of Tripura was under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in order to the Tripura National Volunteers (TNV). Paramilitary forces conducted operations, ‘search and cordon’ and ‘combing’ etc. people say that during such operations, the men were routinely tortured on the suspicion of either being directly involved with, or indirectly supporting the TNV, and the women were subjected to sexual harassment and abuses. It is learnt that for three consecutive days, from 31 May 1988, jawans of the 27 Assam rifles, who were on duty gang raped about 14 tribal women in Ujanmaidan. Some of them were molested too.
3. On 28th November, 1994 Manu Police under Longtrai Valley Sub-division went to Bakchhera village and gang-raped two daughters of Shri Mongdhan Chakma.
4. On 14th March1995 three women of Mritunjoy Kami under Kanchanpur Police Station of North Twipra were gang-raped by police personnel of Pecharthal Police Station.
5. On 1st April 1995,CRPF, led by ASI,Biswanath Majumdar of Twidu(Taidu) Police Station went to Thalbari under the same Police Station and gang-raped three indigenous women in broad day-light.
6. Mass killing by TSR Jawans in 1995: it is learnt that on 28th February 1995, 23 security personnel armed with sophisticated weapons marched on towards Rajkwpra Para in response to the information received by them that some extremists had assembled there. On their arrival, the security personnel started firing indiscriminately, without giving any warning or even ascertaining the identity of the youths they were firing at small hut. All 9 youngsters who gathered there died on the spot. No proper enquiry or investigation is still to be carried out.
7. The Atrocities of Kutna Kami and two young brothers killed by TSR in 1996 : Two Jawans of TSR died at the cross firing between T.S.R and extremists at about 11 a.m. on 6th. November 1996. As a result of taking revenge, T.S.R marched on towards Kutna Kami village and burn down about two hundred houses of 150 families. And they picked up two students, Swapan Debbarma, Class-XII, Hira Moni Debbarma, a College student and Niranjan Debbarma, a school teacher from their home. They were killed by burning kerosene into their mouth in front of the local Church since Swapon requested TSR to kill him in front of the Church.
8. On 3rd March 1997, six Borok (indigenous) women namely; Ms.Tapati Reang, Ms.Barunpati Reang,Ms.Nathirung Reang,Ms. Sudhanpati Reang,Ms. Hengrabati Reang and Ms. Sunity Reang of Dhananjoy Kami under Kanchanpur Police Station,North Twipra were gang-raped by the Assam Rifles Jawans.
9. The atrocities of T.S.R. in Takhum Kami, South Twipra in 10th July 1999 : As a routine of TSR, to take revenge they rushed towards Takhum Kami (village), Sabrum, South Tripura and burnt down the houses of 200 families and many women were beaten, molested and rape. One of them, a pregnant woman was being beaten up by a Rifle’s butt. Later she gave birth a baby with bruised head.
10. On 28th February 2003, Mrs. Chandraboli Debbarma 45yrs. Of village Hari Sardar Para, Khumulwng under Jirania Police Station, West Twipra District was attempted to rape and sexually molested by the C.R.P.F
11. On 24th December 2005, Mrs. Budhu Lakhi Debbarma (Bute), 45 years, a widow of Debra Kami, P.O. Chachu under Sidhai Police Station, West Twipra District was raped by one of the Jowans ( Mintu Majumdar) of Tripura State Rifle’s (T.S.R) 2nd Batallion from Ch
achu Camp, while she was going back home from the market after selling the forest produces in the evening.
12.The incident of Purbo Govinda village on 9th February 2006 : In the name of searching of extremists the Assam Rifles were patrolling in the village of Purbi Govinda on 9th, 2006. They kicked the house door of Mr. Patindra Aslong and opened it then and there they started beating him cruelly, one of the jawans plugged his mouth with cloth and one of them raped his 6th month pregnant wife while the other were giving guard out side the house which led her to miscarriage. There were another two women who were raped by jawans in the same incident.
13. Two young boys killed by the TSR in 2007: On 7th April, 2007 two innocent young boys,Monuj Debbarma(24) from phultala kami(village) and Arpon Debbarma(22),from Athuk twisa Kami under Champa auwer Police Station were gone to attend the condolence service of Late Durjay Debbarma, Mainok Kami . At that time under the head of Pinaki Samonta, Assistant Commandant 6th Battalion of TSR arrested these two young boys. And they had beaten them arbitrarily; pour the boil water on their bodies and then they were killed
14. woman shot in the right leg by T.S.R jawans on 6th July 2007: Mrs. Bikram Shanti Molsom (20yrs) wife of Ishwar Chandra Molsom ( A Jhum Cultivator) was shot in the Rt. Leg by TSR jawans ( 3rd Battalion) from Nali Chhara Camp, P.O Kulai bazaar P.S. Ambasa, Dhalai District, North Twipra. She was undergone treatment in G.B Hospital ,Agartala.
15. An old woman was shot-dead by BSF in the mid-night: On 2nd October2007 Mrs.Shasrati Tripura 60 yrs old woman, wife of Mr. Pakhida Tripura Vill:- Brajendra Kami,P.O & P.S Chhawmanu Longtrai Valley, Subdhivision Dhalai District,Twipra was shot-dead by a sentry- man on duty in-charge,77Bn BSF Thalchhara border out-post in a cold blooded condition under the same Police Station, while she was going outside the house for natural call in the mid-night.
16. Ms.Aapaima Mog was raped to death by Special Police Officer (SPO): On 12th March 2008 at around 3.00pm Ms. Aapaima Mog (21yrs) was raped to death by the Special Police Officer(SPO) named Sri Jagadish Shil (22yrs) who is working in the District Armed Reserved (DAR) camp of Avenga chhera Out Post Under Jalai Bari Police Station, South District Twipra.
It was also learnt during the interaction with peoples in hill areas of Tripura every year there exist chronic hunger in the hill areas and hundred so indigenous people use to die due to malnutrition and malaria. In long run, malnutrition reduced the body resistance and easily caught by malaria and diarrhea. Last year more than 150 indigenous people had died till date mostly children, local people informed.