‘Anti-Muslim violence is part of larger politics of communal hatred in Tripura’

Agartala (Tripura, India), November 05 (KMS): The Jamaat-e-Islami Hind has said that the recent anti-Muslim violence in Tripura is part of the larger politics of communal hatred that is in vogue across the India right now.

Vice president of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Mohammad Salim Engineer, was part of a joint delegation of Muslim organisations that undertook a three-day visit to the violence-hit state.

Addressing a press conference in Agartala city of Tripura state, Saleem said, “The locals told us that since the present BJP government assumed power in the state, Hindutva groups have been working hard on the agenda of spreading hatred among communities.” He said that the party could use this violence to its advantage in the upcoming local body election in Tripura and even for the 2022 elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Tripura witnessed a series of ant-Muslim violence for more than a week in late October during which Hindu communal parties and groups attacked mosques and Muslim properties.

Salim rued the fact that despite repeated appeals to Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb for a meeting, it did not materialise. “We called CM’s office multiple times but he kept dodging us with the excuse of a busy schedule”.

The DGP (Director General Police) also did not give us time for a meeting, Salim Engineer said. “The violence continued for a week and yet the administration and police kept saying everything is normal and that people are spreading rumours,” he said.

Amidst the scant media coverage and police denials, a number of delegations of activists travelled to Tripura to find out the facts on the ground. This included a five-member team of Muslim organisations that included All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadees and All India Milli Council.

Journalist Shams Tabraiz Qasmi of Millat Times who was also part of the delegation has produced a series of videos highlighting the testimonies of victims which contradict the claims of the police and government.

The work of activists and independent journalists has pricked the official narrative as the police have responded with threats and cases against journalists and activists while maintaining a soft hand approach on rioters.

The Tripura police filed a case under the black law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against a team of lawyers who put out a fact finding report that dispelled police claims. Two lawyers Mukesh Kumar and Ansar Indori have been summoned to appear before sub-inspector at West Agartala police station on November 10.

Two journalists who visited the state said that they faced harassment and questioning from police for doing ground reporting. Masi uz Zaman Ansari, a reporter with India Tomorrow news portal was detained on Wednesday morning when he was on way to board a train to Panisagar. The police questioned him for hours before he was let go.

Similarly, Mahmodul Hassan of News9 was subjected to scrutiny by a police officer who asked him what angles he would cover in his stories. “Questioning an on duty journalist in this way tells a lot about the apathy of media freedom,” Hassan said.

Salim lamented the role of police who he said need to be held accountable for failing to protect Muslim properties.

According to Salim, the delegation spent three days in Tripura and visited four districts which had witnessed violence between October 19 and October 26. “Mosques were specifically targeted,” he said. “Four mosques were totally destroyed in arson. Around 10 mosques were vandalized. We found broken window panes, CCTVs damaged, broken fans and bulbs.”