Anti-Muslim violence has flared up in India’s northern state of Tripura. The unrest began on February 3 when a group of armed men, who are believed to be members of the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), attacked Muslims in the district headquarter town of Ramchandra Nagar.
The IPFT is demanding that Bengali speakers in Tripura should have their own state within Assam which they call Bengal and want all Muslim people to leave it.
The organization is behind the latest wave of anti-Muslim violence in Tripura. In a press statement issued on February 3, the IPFT declared that it would launch a civil disobedience movement from February 5 until Bengali speakers demand their separate Bengal state.
On February 4, several protesters blocked the sole railway track at Dudhnoi in western Assam.
The latest violence again raises the issue of the rise of extreme nationalism across India and its impact on Indian Muslims.
Tensions have been high between Bengali speakers and indigenous people of Tripura since a movement for a separate Twipraland was launched in the 1980s by the Tripura Upajati Juba Samity (TUJS).
The TUJS demand the unification of Bengali speakers into a single administrative unit in Assam. The organization denies that it has any links to the IPFT. But is true that both organizations are campaigning for an independent state of Bengal, comprising Tripura and parts of Assam.
The IPFT demand that Bengali speakers are given districts which traditionally have a majority Bengali community, including Ambassa, Dhalai, Teliamura and Khowai. This is part of their land grab agenda.
According to the 2011 census there are about 6 lakh Hindustani (i.e non-tribal) people living in the state as opposed to 1.8 million Bengali speakers whose lands they covet.
Over the past few months, there has been a spate of anti-Muslim violence in different parts of India under an umbrella of Hindutva organizations such as RSS and Shiv Sena which claim to represent Hindus and India’s majority community.
The violence started after the BJP came to power in Uttar Pradesh last year, then it spread to Haryana and most recently erupted in Tripura with the Hindutva organizations’ call for a Bengali land grab movement.