Supporters of the BJP and Trinamool Congress clashed in the heart of Agartala on Monday after a disagreement over the saffron party’s flag snowballed into a fight leaving at least 20 people including 11 policemen injured.
The skirmish took place despite prohibitory orders that were in force for Holi.
The clashes first began around 4 pm when a local BJP leader Jayanta Dey attempted to hoist party flags at RMS Chowmuhani area in the city. A local businessman – Sandip Roy Barman, who is also the brother of Trinamool Congress MLA Sudip Roy Barman objected to it and reportedly assaulted Dey. A few other BJP workers and the secretary of the party’s Tripura unit Amit Rakshit were also beaten up when they went to Dey’s rescue.
BJP workers then headed for the West Agartala Police Station to lodge complaint against the accused. A group of TMC workers took to the streets and also reached the police station to protest the BJP’s allegation against Barman’s elder brother. Both sides lodged complaints against each other.
The face off led to another clash between the supporters of the two parties outside the police station in the evening that left six of them injured including BJP state unit vice president Subal Bhowmik and TMC leader Panna Deb even as policemen tried to break up the fight. Two television camerapersons were also injured.
“Police and Tripura State Rifles resorted to lathi charge to disperse the mob,” West Agartala superintendent of police Abhijit Saptarshi told HT. “ We are investigating the matter. Till now, no arrest has been made.”
The BJP alleged that the clashes were engineered by the ruling Marxist party and the opposition Trinamool Congress to suppress a saffron wave in the state after the party’s landslide victory in the recent Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
“The Marxists became tense after seeing recent massive political rally in Agartala and BJP’s victory in Uttar Pradesh assembly polls and they masterminded the clash with the help of Trinamool Congress. It became clear as the Trinamool activists stormed into the police station to stall the police activity after the BJP men came out of the station lodging complaint against the TMC leader’s elder brother. Police administration was mum then,” said BJP’s Tripura observer Sunil Deodhar.
“BJP condemns the incident and will conduct protest movements in democratic way soon. The Barman family has secret understanding with the Marxist government and it is clear that the latter lent support to the TMC in the clash,” BJP state president Biplab Kumar Deb said.
On the other hand, TMC MLA Sudip Roy Barman accused the BJP of triggering the clash. “The BJP became overconfident after its victory in Uttar Pradesh assembly polls. The party thought it could be done in Tripura too. The incident is really unfortunate,” Barman said.
He also rubbished the BJP’s claims that he has a secret understanding with the CPI (M).