Tripura violence: Centre caught napping, Left govt had sought security anticipating trouble

The Left government, which was ousted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the election, had requested the Centre in January to keep paramilitary forces performing election duties deployed in Tripura after the announcement of poll results.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2018 07:32 IST
Azaan Javaid
Azaan Javaid
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Tripura statue vandalism,Statue vandalism,CPI(M)
Activists of Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) hold placards and shout anti-government slogans during a protest against what they say was the demolition of a statue of Vladimir Lenin in Tripura.(Reuters Photo)

Tripura’s Communist government, voted out in last month’s state election, had asked the Centre in January to make special security arrangements, particularly for the period after the announcement of poll results.

The request was made by the government, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), after intelligence reports that suggested the state could witness violence. The state government, which was ousted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the election, requested the Centre to keep paramilitary forces performing election duties deployed in the state after the announcement of poll results, a senior central government official said.

The official said on condition of anonymity that the request was made in the last week of January, when paramilitary forces were assessing the situation in the three northeastern states where elections were to be held. Meghalaya and Nagaland were the other states.

Elections in Tripura were held on February 18 and the results were declared on March 3, following which the CPI(M) has accused workers of the BJP and its ally, the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), of unleashing violence across the state. The razing of a statue of Russian Communist revolutionary leader Vladamir Lenin has resulted in a war of words between the left wing and right wing parties in the state and elsewhere. According to the official cited above, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) sent 300 companies of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to Tripura to perform election duties that included protection of polling booths, transportation of election officers and so on. Each company comprises 90-100 personnel.

After the results were declared, of the 300 companies, 246 were recalled, leaving the state with 54 companies, or somewhere between 4,800 and 5,400 troopers. The CPI(M) government had demanded 75-80 companies. “Representatives from Tripura government, during their meeting with the CRPF officers, specifically asked the paramilitary unit to focus on the period following the announcement of election results,” said the official, adding that the request made by Tripura was not only based on intelligence inputs but also due to the “state’s history”. “There have been instances of violence in the state during elections. Furthermore, violence between political parties has been observed in the recent past. It is in this context that the request had been made,” the official said.

The deputation of central forces in states is decided after discussions between state governments, the Election Commission of India and the MHA, and it is standard practice for forces to remain deputed after the announcement of results. Central paramilitary forces are mandated to make security arrangements before, during, and after the elections depending on the requirement of the state.

A senior MHA official said law and order being a state subject, the state police is the first to respond in the kind of law and order situation that currently prevails in Tripura. The ministry on its part provided ample security forces to ensure a peaceful election, the official said on condition of anonymity.

First Published: Mar 08, 2018 07:30 IST