1 dead, many injured in firing during Tripura blockade

Tripura: One dead, at least 23 injured in police firing during blockade against Bru re-settlement

Normal life over the past six days has been crippled, several vehicles were also set on fire

Vehicles set on fire during the highway blockade in Panisagar sub-division in Tripura. Credit: DH Photo

One person died and at least 23 others were injured in police firing in North Tripura district on Saturday during a highway blockade called by agitators opposing government's move to re-settle Bru refugees, as per an agreement signed with the Centre.

Police officials said security forces had to open fire after the agitators turned violent and attacked some of them who tried to clear the National Highway 8 blockade at Chamtila under Panisagar sub-division. One of the agitators, 46-year-old Srikanta Das, who was fired on his chest succumbed to the injury while at least 23 others, of which 15 police and fire fighters received injuries.

Condition of eight injurer persons were stated to be serious.

The district administration clamped curfew in order to bring the situation under control and to quell the tension, which was on since the indefinite "general strike" called by the agitators on Monday. Normal life remained crippled for the past six days due to the strike.

"More security forces were rushed to bring life into normalcy but the agitators refused to our requests and instead blocked the highway on Saturday morning that connects Assam. When the security forces intervened, the agitators turned violent and started attacking the security personnel. The situation turned so bad that the security persons had to open fire," a police official said.

Three vehicles were also set on fire during the blockade.

The Centre in January this year signed an agreement for re-settlement of 35,5000 Bru or Reang refugees, who have been taking shelter in Panisagar and neighbouring Kanchanpur sub-division in Tripura. The Brus had fled their villages in neighbouring Mizoram in 1997 following an ethnic clash. The Centre also announced Rs 600 crore package for their rehabilitation.

The agitators, under the banner Joint Movement Committee, including Nagarik Surakhsa Mancha and Mizo Convention, is holding an indefinite strike opposing the state government's move to settle 5000 Bru migrants in Kanchanpur. They fear that settlement of such a large number of Brus migrants would reduce the locals into minority.

They have been demanding that Bru migrants should be re-settled across the state, not only in Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-divisions.

The district administration announced an exgratia of Rs. 5 lakh to the deceased's family and ordered a magisterial probe into the incident.