“My heart broke”

As police claims normalcy in Tripura, Muslim residents reel from attacks on homes, shops and mosques

22 November 2021
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“You cannot enter here,” a police officer said as she stood guard near a mosque in the Panisagar block in North Tripura. Another police guard seated in the lane leading to the structure gestured at us to deny entry. We asked them if we could see the mosque. “No, you cannot see the place, you have to take permission from the police station,” the first police officer said. 

The mosque in question, the Panisagar Jame Masjid, was built by personnel of the Central Reserve Police Forces in 1982 and is located next to a Hindu temple, the Debasthan temple, reportedly built the same year. On the intervening night between 21 and 22 October, a night before Friday prayers, unknown assailants allegedly set fire to the mosque, which is also often called the CRPF mosque. Earlier that day, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, had held rallies in Dharmanagar, a town about fifteen kilometres away, as well as in Agartala, the state capital, to protest violence against Hindus in neighbouring Bangladesh. Tripura shares a border with the Muslim-majority nation.

Members of a VHP rally on 26 October vandalised the Chamtilla mosque in North Tripura district’s Panisagar division. The mob broke the fans, damaged windows and doors, and smashed a part of the announcement system. An eyewitness said that CRPF personnel were present to guard the mosque when the attack took place, but did not intervene.. Members of a VHP rally on 26 October vandalised the Chamtilla mosque in North Tripura district’s Panisagar division. The mob broke the fans, damaged windows and doors, and smashed a part of the announcement system. An eyewitness said that CRPF personnel were present to guard the mosque when the attack took place, but did not intervene..
Members of a VHP rally on 26 October vandalised the Chamtilla mosque in North Tripura district’s Panisagar division. The mob broke the fans, damaged windows and doors, and smashed a part of the announcement system. An eyewitness said that CRPF personnel were present to guard the mosque when the attack took place, but did not intervene.
A window at the Chamtilla mosque, destroyed during an attack by a Hindu mob.. A window at the Chamtilla mosque, destroyed during an attack by a Hindu mob..
A window at the Chamtilla mosque, destroyed during an attack by a Hindu mob.

In mid October, a Quran was found at a Durga Puja pandal in Bangladesh’s Comilla, allegedly desecrated. The incident set off communal attacks in the country, leaving seven people dead. More than eighty Durga Puja pandals were reportedly destroyed in the violence. As news of the violence flowed across the border into Tripura, the VHP decided to protest the attacks with a series of rallies across the state. 

Kimi Colney is a reporting fellow at The Caravan.

CK Vijayakumar is a multimedia producer at The Caravan.

Keywords: Tripura communal violence Vishwa Hindu parishad
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