1 killed & 20 injured in police firing on picketers in Tripura
Agartala: One person was killed and at least 20 others were injured when police opened fire at the picketers, who blocked the Assam-Agartala National Highway at Panisagar in North Tripura district Saturday in protest against resettlement of Bru migrants from neighbouring Mizoram, police said.
A large number of people had gathered on the NH 08 at Panisagar and blocked it, demanding to call off the resettlement planning of the government.
The Joint Movement Committee (JMC) comprising Bengalis and local Mizos had observed five days strike from Monday on the issue and blocked NH8 Saturday.
The Bru issue had started in September 1997 following demands of a separate autonomous district council by carving out areas of western Mizoram adjoining Bangladesh and Tripura. About 30,000 Bru tribals had then fled Mizoram due to the ethnic tension there and took shelter in refugee camps in Tripura.
The first attempt to repatriate the Brus was made in November 2009 by the Centre along with the governments of Tripura and Mizoram.
However, the effort had met with little success.
The centre signed a fresh agreement in January this year according to which the Brus who stayed back in Tripura relief camps will not be forced to return.
The centre sanctioned Rs 600 crore as rehabilitation package for the displaced Brus as a final solution to the vexed problem after the agreement.
JMC chairman Zairemthiama Pachuau had told newsmen recently that the North Tripura district magistrate had assured that 1,500 families would be settled in the area.
"But now the government is trying to settle 6,000 families," he said.
Trouble started, when large contingent of police and paramilitary, including Tripura State Rifles (TSR), were involved in a scuffle following altercation over withdrawal of the road blockade.
Police resorted to lathi charge and later opened fire on the agitators, leading to death of a 40 year-old Srikanta Das, a carpenter who was among the protests.
Additional Director General of Police Rajiv Singh said the police was compelled to fire in self defense since the crowd had turned unruly and tried to snatch weapons from the security personnel.
"The crowd obstructed the National Highway since morning without permission. We tried to dissuade them from doing so and after they became violent, we tried mild lathi charge, blank firing but the crowd went unruly and
tried to snatch weapons. Police fired in self-defense", the official said.