Agartala, Oct 20 (IANS) The district authorities here have ordered a probe into allegations that members of the ruling BJP removed a memorial of Mohini Tripura at Matai village, and laid a foundation stone to build a Ram temple there, officials said on Saturday.
“After receiving a written complaint from a CPI-M delegation, I have ordered a probe,” South Tripura District Magistrate and Collector Debapriya Bardhan told IANS.
Ghuncha Sanobar, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Belonia, will inquire into the incident, and the authorities would decide the next course of action after she files a report, he said.
A four-member delegation of the Communist Party of India-(Marxist), led by its central committee member Badal Choudhury, met the District Magistrate on Friday and sought an immediate reinstatement of the memorial of Mohini Tripura.
Mohini, a tribal rights activist, was killed in police firing in 1968 while protesting against the government’s ban on ‘Jhum’ cultivation in the “Reserve Forest”, as notified by the central government.
Tribals, who constitute 27 per cent of the 45.58 million people in the northeastern states, practise ‘Jhum’ or slash-and-burn method of cultivation. Rice is grown along with vegetables, maize, cotton and mustard. The ‘jhumias’ or shifting cultivators traditionally also collect forest produce and firewood for their livelihood.
The then state and central governments prohibited ‘Jhum’ cultivation in forest land. Tribals, specially the women led by Mohini Tripura, resisted the government order, triggering a clash with the police.
A temporary memorial had been set up at Matai village in southern Tripura, months after the incident. On the occasion of 50 years of the martyrdom of Mohini Tripura, a permanent memorial was established by former Chief Minister Manik Sarkar on March 17, 2017.
Badal Choudhury, who was a minister in the state government, told IANS on Saturday that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s state Vice President Subal Bhowmik and Sanatan Sena’s (a BJP ally) Tripura President Mrinal Sen laid the foundation stone on March 14 at the memorial site for a Ram Mandir.
BJP leader Bhowmik said that the CPI-M had illegally grabbed the land of a local person to build the memorial.
“The original owner of the land was present with us on the dais when we laid the foundation stone for the Ram Mandir at Matai village,” he said.