One person was killed and at least 20 injured in Tripura on Saturday as the police baton-charged and fired at people protesting against the resettlement of displaced Bru tribal community members, The Indian Express reported.
The man killed in the firing was identified as a 40-year-old carpenter named Srikanta Das.
The police said they had to retaliate because the protestors turned violent. The crowd had blocked the highway in North Tripura’s Panisagar area.
“The crowd had blocked the national highway without permission,” Additional Director General of Police Rajiv Singh told the newspaper. “We tried to dissuade them and, after they became violent, we tried a mild lathi-charge and blank firing.” Singh added the protestors snatched weapons from the police, after which they fired in self-defence.
Fifteen policemen and firefighters were among those who were injured in the violence, according to Deccan Herald.
Joint Movement Committee, the organisation that called the protest, claimed that the police fired at peaceful demonstrators, according to The Indian Express. “The police opened fire on them without provocation,” the organisation’s convener Sushanta Baruah told the newspaper. “One person died on the spot and many others were severely injured. We are still unclear on details.”
On Wednesday, prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Code Procedure were imposed in Kanchanpur in Tripura after a man was allegedly assaulted during the protest against the resettlement plan.
The resettlement plan
Over 32,000 Brus who fled Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts of adjoining Mizoram in 1997 are being resettled in Tripura as part of a four-corner agreement between the state governments of Tripura, Mizoram, the Centre and Bru migrants. The government declared a Rs 600-crore package for resettling these migrants who have been living in six relief camps since October 1997.
The Joint Movement Committee and other civil groups in Tripura fear the resettlement plan would disrupt the local demography, social, ecological and environmental balance of the region. They demand that the Brus be settled across all the eight districts of Tripura instead concentrating them largely in North Tripura.
On November 16, a delegation of Bru leaders had met Chief Secretary Manoj Kumar to apprise him about the situation and their demands. Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples’ Forum General Secretary Bruno Msha had they requested Kumar to consider four alternative resettlement spots out of the 12 decided by the government.
The leaders of the tribal community also demanded equal package for all displaced Brus, and requested the government to ensure the availability of basic amenities such as road connectivity, electricity, safe drinking water, school and healthcare before they are physically shifted from the camps.
Besides, the migrants reiterated their demand for the immediate issuance of Scheduled Tribe certificates, permanent residence certificates and enrolment in ration cards and electoral rolls to enable them to enjoy government scheme benefits.