More than 10 incidents of religious violence have been reported from the North Tripura district in the past four days.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) took out a rally in north Tripura’s Dharmanagar. The groups were protesting against the police refusing them permission to hold a rally against recent attacks on Hindus in neighboring Bangladesh.
Soubhik Dey, a senior police official in Panisagar, said some 3,500 people had taken part in the rally.
The violence followed clashes between Hindu groups and the police, following which a mosque was allegedly vandalized in Panisagar sub-division and houses of people belonging to the Muslim community were also vandalized earlier this week.
Muslims make up less than 9% of Tripura’s 4.2 million population.
Last week, the state unit of the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, a Muslim organisation, had alleged that mobs had attacked mosques and neighborhoods dominated by Muslims. The Tripura police said that they were providing security to more than 150 mosques in the state.
“Some VHP activists participating in the rally ransacked a mosque in the Chamtilla area. Later, three houses and three shops were ransacked and two shops were set on fire in the Rowa Bazar area, around 800 yards from the first incident,” Mr. Dey said. Police officials added that the ransacked shops and houses belonged to Muslims and a case has been filed based on a complaint by one of them.
Narayan Das, a local leader of Bajrang Dal, another hardline Hindu group, has claimed that some youngsters in front of the mosque abused them and brandished swords, a charge that could not be independently verified.
The Tripura police tweeted that “some people are spreading rumours and circulating provocative messages on social media” and appealed to people to maintain peace, as security has been tightened and restrictions on gatherings have been enforced in the affected areas.
Fake social media accounts are being used to spread fake news and communally sensitive rumors, including pictures of burning and damaged mosque, following Tuesday’s violence in Tripura, the state police said, adding the situation is “absolutely normal”. Action will be taken against those spreading rumors, the police added.
“Though a majority of Tripura’s population is Hindu refugees from what is now Bangladesh, there has never been any backlash against Muslims here after previous religious disturbances in the neighboring country,” said Bikach Choudhury, a Tripura-based writer.
Opposition parties have blamed the “politically motivated fringe elements” close to the BJP for the attacks on Muslims.
Sushmita Dev, an MP from the regional Trinamool Congress party, told the BBC that the BJP was trying to use the recent violence in Bangladesh to “polarize” the voters ahead of the municipal elections in the state in November.
At least seven people were killed, many temples desecrated and houses and businesses of the Hindu minority were torched in Bangladesh earlier this month, after rumors spread that the Quran had been insulted at a special pavilion set up for the annual Hindu religious festival of Durga Puja.
Authorities enforced restrictions on large gatherings after Tuesday night’s violence
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