Tripura, India – Litton Mia continues to be in a state of shock. It was 10 pm on 23 October when the 35-year-old heard some villagers screaming in panic. As he got here out together with others, a picket beer and a few prayer mats caught hearth within the courtyard of the native mosque.
“We discovered that the attackers had poured kerosene contained in the mosque as properly. However earlier than any additional injury might be performed, the village awoke and the attackers fled,” stated Miya exterior the small tin hut, which homes a mosque and conventional spiritual faculty, in a quiet nook of Naora village in Sepahijilla district of Tripura state within the northeast. acts as. India.
Narora is lower than 50 km (31 mi) from Comilla in neighboring Bangladesh, the place an image of a Quran positioned on a statue of a Hindu deity throughout a Durga Puja pageant triggered violence within the Muslim-majority nation, during which two Hindus Together with six individuals had been killed. Male.
In obvious retaliation for the lethal violence in Bangladesh, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (Vishva Hindu Parishad or VHP), and different native teams took out protest rallies in Tripura and allegedly attacked Muslims and their spiritual locations, together with mosques.
The VHP is affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological supply of India’s Hindu supremacist teams, which seeks to rework India into an ethnic Hindu state. A lot of the prime leaders of India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Social gathering (BJP), together with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, started their political careers as RSS staff.
Tripura, a distant state dominated by Bengali-speaking Hindus, is at the moment dominated by Modi’s BJP. Muslims make up about 9 % of its 3.7 million inhabitants.
’16 mosques focused’
The assaults on mosques have created concern and nervousness among the many Muslim minorities of Tripura.
“16 mosques have been focused,” stated Mufti Abdul Momin, head of a faction of Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, an influential All India Muslim group in Tripura.
Momin stated a lot of the incidents occurred at evening and the native individuals couldn’t establish the perpetrators.
“These days we do not sleep at evening. Six or seven of us are there to protect the village until morning,” Nazrul Islam, a authorities worker within the Chamtila space of Panisagar, advised Al Jazeera.
The utmost arson and vandalism came about on October 26 in Panisagar city situated in North Tripura district. Residents and police say the violence came about throughout a VHP rally.
Islam stated the rally handed via Chamtila space round 3 pm. “The gang was elevating inflammatory and derogatory slogans in opposition to the Prophet. Out of the blue, 30 to 40 of them got here in the direction of the mosque and ransacked it,” he advised Al Jazeera.
The attackers broke home windows and broke ceiling followers, as Islam and different locals had been watching from afar, fearing a crowd would possibly comply with them in the event that they intervened.
“They didn’t even spare the agar (Aquilaria) timber. They promote for 1000’s,” he stated. The mob uprooted the timber within the courtyard of the mosque.
After attacking the mosque in Chamtila, the rally proceeded a brief distance to Rowa, the place a bunch of Muslims had gathered on the native mosque.
“A few of them who had been a part of the rally wished to march in the direction of the mosque. However they had been stopped by the police and a few Hindus within the village,” Sanohar Ali, proprietor of a store within the native market, advised Al Jazeera.
Then, a bit of the mob first attacked a few homes within the periphery of the village and torched Muslim outlets. About half a dozen outlets available in the market had been both fully or partially burnt.
“Certainly one of them served because the native BJP workplace. Even he was not spared,” stated Ali standing inside his burnt store, the place he used to promote footwear and garments.
“It went on for over an hour. The police could not cease them.”
Native media stories stated that the identical night, there was vandalism concentrating on spiritual locations, together with some Hindus, at Churabari in the identical district.
Bijit Roy, a neighborhood VHP chief, in his October 26 rally blamed “some miscreants” for the violence.
“Some anti-national slogans had been being raised from the loudspeaker of the native mosque. That is when some ‘duracharis’ (misleaders) set outlets on hearth,” he advised Al Jazeera.
Roy stated Muslims had been chanting “Nara-e-Takbeer, Allahu Akbar” – a generally used slogan by Muslims all over the world.
“A few of them had been additionally elevating slogans of ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ (Pakistan Zindabad),” he alleged. “Hindus are peaceable. We didn’t intend to focus on Indian Muslims.
‘We had been greater than numbers’
A police officer in Panisagar, who spoke to Al Jazeera on situation of anonymity, stated they had been investigating the incident.
“However there was no provocation from the opposite aspect,” he stated, referring to the Muslims of the world.
The police officer stated that it was the VHP who flouted their guidelines.
“We had been outnumbered,” he stated, explaining the rally was way more individuals than the administration allowed.
“The VHP violated the circumstances which had been put in place whereas permitting the rally.”
The official stated the police have arrested 4 residents for his or her alleged position within the violence. He stated, ‘The one who raised the slogans within the rally is absconding. Raids are on, we’ll arrest him.”
The police officer additionally stated that they’re investigating a separate incident of fireplace at a neighborhood mosque. The mosque, situated proper subsequent to an deserted temple on the premises of a former paramilitary camp, was attacked 4 days earlier than the October 26 violence.
Non secular books and different objects contained in the tin-roofed mosque had been decreased to ashes and a portion of its wall was torn down.
An area resident, on situation of anonymity, stated the incident on the mosque the place Muslims of the world solely supply Friday prayers, came about on October 22.
“We’re probing it. There have been no complaints about it. No data even to the hearth companies,” stated the native police officer.
On Tuesday, the USA Fee on Worldwide Non secular Freedom (USCIRF) stated it was involved by stories of violence in opposition to Muslims in Tripura and urged the Indian authorities to cease the assaults.
“USCIRF is especially involved about stories of desecration of mosques and setting hearth to properties of Muslims from Tripura. The Indian authorities should convey these chargeable for inciting and fascinating in spiritual violence to justice and forestall additional assaults,” the USCIRF stated in a tweet.
The USCIRF is an unbiased, bipartisan federal authorities fee that makes spiritual freedom and overseas coverage suggestions to the US President, the US Senate, and the State Division.
In a latest interview with Al Jazeera, USCIRF President Nadine Menza stated the state of non secular freedom in India – a “nation of specific concern” for 2 consecutive years – was “fairly worrying”.
However Tripura police chief VS Yadav downplayed the violence, saying these had been “minor incidents” that had been being probed. He claimed that “well timed intervention” by the police thwarted a number of makes an attempt like Narora.
“There was no incident previously week,” Yadav advised Al Jazeera. A number of instances, together with violence and sharing of faux movies and photos on social media, have been registered within the state, he stated.
He stated, ‘There are instances from each side.
These pretend movies are being circulated as a part of a prison conspiracy to disturb peace and communal concord within the state and to defame the state authorities and police. Police have registered prison instances and swift motion is being taken in opposition to pretend rumours.
— Cyber Crime Tripura (@CrimeTripura) November 3, 2021
On Thursday, Tripura Police stated it had arrested six individuals in reference to varied “communal incidents”. 4 others had been arrested in North Tripura district on expenses of being “concerned in spreading malicious propaganda with a view to creating hatred between two spiritual teams”.
In the meantime, a minimum of two attorneys from New Delhi, who had been a part of a fact-finding mission in Tripura, have been booked below the stringent Illegal Actions Prevention Act (UAPA), a controversial anti-terror legislation.
He has been requested to look earlier than the police in Tripura and take away his “fabricated and false statements” posted on social media. Police stated they might take motion in opposition to 71 individuals who “posted inflammatory posts on social media”.
The Tripura authorities stated it will take motion in opposition to these chargeable for the latest violence and promised compensation to these whose properties had been broken.
politics of polarization
Tripura shares a border of 856 kilometers (532 mi) with Bangladesh. As soon as a predominantly tribal state, Bengali audio system, together with migrants and refugees who got here in a number of waves, now make up for almost all.
Whereas the state has a historical past of fault-lines between Bengalis and native tribals, battle on spiritual grounds was uncommon.
State police chief Yadav says there was no sample in lots of incidents. The official stated he suspected it was the “handiwork of misguided individuals”, who might have acted on the behest of a political celebration.
“Any celebration can be part of in opposition to the current authorities.
In 2018, the BJP, in alliance with a regional tribal celebration, got here to energy in Tripura for the primary time, ousting a communist authorities that had been in energy for 25 years.
Three years later, the state authorities seems to be battling an anti-incumbency wave, at the same time as its tribal allies lose their floor to a brand new political celebration created by Pradyot Manikya, a descendant of the royal household who based India. He dominated the princely state earlier than the merger. in 1949.
With numerous Bengali audio system, Tripura has additionally emerged as a serious state for the Trinamool Congress (TMC) celebration chief and West Bengal state chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
Abdul Basit Khan, lawyer and TMC unit president of the North Tripura district, advised Al Jazeera, “It is native politics.”
Khan alleged that VHP members ransacked his home on October 21 when his household was out. “They wish to consolidate Hindu votes and terrorize Muslim voters.”
TMC MP Sushmita Dev stated her celebration’s entry into Tripura has “spoiled the established order”.
“There is a competitors now that is bothering them,” she advised Al Jazeera.
The state will vote to elect a brand new authorities in 2023.
Communist Social gathering of India (Marxist) state unit chief Jitendra Choudhary stated the BJP was “making an attempt to divert consideration” from governance points by dividing individuals on spiritual traces.
“There may be full anarchy and the BJP might be making an attempt to polarize the state by profiting from the scenario in Bangladesh,” he stated.
BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharjee claimed that the Left was behind the violence to destabilize the state. “It’s their IT cell which is chargeable for the pretend social media posts,” he stated.
Again within the Rowa market, Manik Nath, a Hindu businessman, has a distinct set of considerations.
“It has been seven days since a Muslim got here to my store,” he stated. “I hope that the lengthy, cordial relationship we have now shared doesn’t break due to this unlucky episode.”