• Tripura

    1. Overview.. 1
    2. Human rights violations by the security forces. 2
    3. Violations of international humanitarian laws by the AOGs. 3
    4. Violence against women. 4
    5. Violations of the prisoners' rights. 4

    1. Overview

    Ruled by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Tripura continued to witness serious human rights violations perpetrated both by the security forces and the armed opposition groups, namely National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) and All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF). The Union Government allocated Rs 3.62 crore to the State Government for the rehabilitation of the surrendered AOG cadres during the last three years.[1] About 202 alleged members and associates of the ATTF and NLFT were killed in the counter-insurgency operation during the last five years while about 170 security personnel were also killed during the same time.[2]

    As per the crime statistics of Tripura Police, a total of 4,146 crimes including 3,940 under the Indian Penal Code were committed in 2006 as against 3,569 in 2005. An estimated 13 civilians were killed and 43 kidnapped by the armed opposition groups in 103 insurgency related incidents during 2006.[3]

    Women continued to be target of sexual abuse. About 489 rape cases along with 34 cases of child-rape were recorded officially during the last three years.[4]

    Judicial delay continued to hamper delivery of justice. There  were 19 vacancies and 31,744 cases pending in the District and Subordinate Courts as on 30 September 2006.[5] 

    On 18 January 2006, the Tripura Revenue and Land Reforms Bill, 2006 was passed in the State Assembly with voice vote to expedite the survey and demarcation of land.[6] However, the tribal people continued to face eviction. More than 200,000 tribal people were on the verge of becoming homeless in Tripura. The Forest Department of the State Government reportedly issued eviction notices to about 43,215 tribal families to immediately vacate illegally occupied forest land following a direction by the Supreme Court to clear all forest land encroached by human settlers. Thousands of tribal people were allotted forest land by the Revenue Department under the Tripura Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act, 1960. According to estimates, there were some 2,15,000 tribal people settled in about 14,000 hectares of forest land for decades in Tripura.[7]

    The highhandedness of the State Government was clear with the eviction of 17 Chakma tribal families settled in the reserve forest area at Nabincherra under Kanchanpur subdivision of North Tripura who were displaced due to ethnic conflict in Karbi Anglong district of Asom in January 2005. On 19 April 2006, forest officials went to the new settlement and demolished the thatched huts that they were living in.[8]

    2. Human rights violations by the security forces

    The security forces were responsible for gross human rights violations including violation of the right to life, rape, torture, etc.

    There were frequent reports of custodial deaths which were either dismissed as suicides or encounter deaths. On 29 April 2006, Purnamohan Tripura was allegedly killed by police after being arrested from Bhagyachandrapara under Chhamanu police station of Dhalai district. The police claimed that he was killed in an encounter.[9] On 24 June 2006, Harakrishna Das, a murder accused, was found dead inside Ranirbazar police station in West Tripura district. He was allegedly killed in custody. However, the police claimed that Haakrishna committed suicide by hanging himself using a torn part of blanket. A judicial probe was ordered into the incident and two policemen including the duty officer Rabindra Debnath and constable Sukumar Debbarma of the police station were suspended on charge of negligence.[10]

    There were also allegations of fake encounters. According to the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), the police and paramilitary forces had killed at least 53 innocent tribals in fake encounters in the past three years and in each case the errant personnel got away scot free.[11]

    On the night of 4 January 2006, a National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) cadre, Raja alias Sukanto Debbarma was allegedly killed by combined force of policemen and Tripura State Rifles (7th battalion) jawans in an alleged fake encounter at Golaghat under Bishalgarh subdivision. The INPT alleged that the police had killed Sukanto Debbarma after arresting him.[12]

    3. Violations of international humanitarian laws by the AOGs

    The armed opposition groups (AOGs)  were also responsible for violation of the right to life. Those who were killed by AOGs in 2006 included Sujan Saha, Harendra Malakar and Gopal Sarkar, employees of the Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) by alleged members of the NLFT (Biswamohan) in an ambush at Badaniapara in West Tripura district on 14 February 2006[13] and a truck driver Ratan Roy who was killed by alleged NLFT cadre at Unish Mile under Ganganagar police station in Dhalai district on 24 April 2006.[14]

    As per the statistics of Tripura Police, as many as 43 persons were kidnapped, 31 were released and one killed after kidnapping in 2006.[15] On 11 January 2006, seven CPI (M) activists - four  Tripuris including local leader Harendra Tripura and three Chakmas, all residents of Ratannagar village - were allegedly abducted by NLFT cadres in an act of revenge for masterminding mass surrender of its cadres from remote Aswini Roajapara village near Raishyabari. The victims were going to Aswini Roajapara village near the remote Indo-Bangla border to attend a CPI (M) party meeting.[16]

    On 9 June 2006, Elvis Charkey, President of Mizoram Bru Displaced Persons Forum (MBDPF), was abducted by Bru Liberation Front of Mizoram (BLFM) cadres at Santipur under Kanchanpur police station on the charge of discrimination against displaced Bru families whose member or members had joined the BLFM.[17] Elvis Chorkey was released on 30 June 2006.[18]

    The other victims included Bishnuram Reang who was kidnapped by NLFT-BM from his house at Kancherra under Kanchanpur police station in North Tripura district on the night of 18 June 2006;[19] six tribal villagers who were kidnapped by suspected NLFT cadres from South Gokulnagar under Teliamura police station for ransom on the night of 4 September 2006;[20] Chakrapada Malsom who was kidnapped by alleged NLFT-BM cadres from his house at Jambukcherra under Taidu police station on the night of 21 November 2006[21] and labourers identified as Anil Debnath Human Miah and Ahid Miah of Nutanbazar South Tripura district by suspected NLFT cadres on 26 December 2006.[22]

    4. Violence against women

    Women faced various atrocities and violence. On 18 December 2006, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar stated before the State Assembly that altogether 1,144 cases of violence against women were registered in various police stations of the State during the last three years. In the same period, 489 rape cases along with 34 cases of child-rape were also recorded. From January to September 2006 alone,  194 rape cases were registered across the State. Of these, 11 victims were children.[23] Since January to July 2006 alone, 37 women were killed for dowry, while 263 dowry-related incidents were reported to the police.[24]

    However, the conviction rate was very low. Of the 81 rape cases registered with the police in 2003 only in 22 cases accused were convicted by the trial court while 69 others were acquitted. Likewise, in 2005 altogether 115 rape cases were registered by the police. But only 32 accused were convicted and 83 persons acquitted by the trial court. In 2006 till August, about 60 accused persons were acquitted by the trial court.[25]

    The security forces were responsible for sexual abuses. On the night of 9 February 2006, three tribal women including a pregnant woman were allegedly gang raped and at least two girls were molested by personnel of 36th  battalion Assam Rifles led by Capt. S. Tanwar and naik subedar, Ashok Kumar at Sachindraroazapara in Dhalai district during a search operation. The pregnant woman suffered a miscarriage and had to be admitted to north district hospital.[26] On 15 February 2006, two of the three rape victims recorded their statements before the Chief Judicial Magistrate confirming the assault by the jawans.[27]

    Ruling CPM activists also committed rape. On 6 March 2006, Parungmala Tripura was allegedly gang raped by three CPM members identified as Agon Tripura, Sushil Tripura and Beijya Tripura inside her house in Vishnupur village in Sabroom sub-division of South Tripura. When the victim's mother Padmabati and her husband Dhani Kumar Tripura rushed to rescue her, they were mercilessly beaten up. Dhani Kumar Tripura died on the spot.[28]

    5. Violations of the prisoners' rights

    The conditions of prisons were deplorable and overcrowding remained a major concern. More than 2,500 prisoners were housed in 11 jails in the district and sub-divisional towns against the capacity of only 1,065. The Agartala Central Jail housed 694 prisoners undertrials as against the capacity of only 355 prisoners as of November 2006. Both the convicts and the under-trials were housed together in narrow cells with no facilities of lights, fans and basic hygiene.[29]

    Those who were granted bail by courts could not leave prisons as there was no one to sign their bonds. About 169 inmates, 101 of them tribals, were languishing in prisons despite their bails.[30]

    The grants given by the Centre were under-used. The State Government did not use even 10 per cent of the Rs 20-crore grant given by the Centre for modernisation of jails across the state for the last three years. On 22 November 2006, five prisoners of Agartala Central jail and two wardens sustained serious injuries in a clash.[31] 

    [1]. 337 civilians killed by ultras in Tripura in 3 years, The Assam Tribune, 24 March 2006 

    [2]. 202 ultras killed in CI operations in Tripura, The Assam Tribune, 18 January 2006

    [3]. Crime Statistics of Tripura Police Department, available at: http://tripurapolice.nic.in/acrime.htm

    [4]. Alarming rise in atrocities on women, suicide, The Tripurainfo, 20 December 2006 

    [5]. Court News, October-December 2006, Supreme Court of India

    [6]. Tripura Land Reforms Bill passed, The Telegraph, 21 January 2006

    [7]. Govt serves notices to inhabitants in forest lands - Tripura tribals facing eviction, The Shillong Times, 2 June 2006

    [8]. Chakmas turned out of Tripura forest - Hounded out of Karbi Anglong, 17 families face homelessness again, The Telegraph, 20 April 2006 

    [9]. INPT accuses police of killing 'innocent' tribals, The Assam Tribune, 5 May 2006

    [10]. Custodial death : Cops suspended, probe begins, The Tripurainfo, 27 June 2006

    [11]. INPT seeks probe into 'encounter', The Telegraph, 4 May 2006 

    [12]. Tripura police under fire over rebel killing, The Telegraph, 6 January 2006

    [13]. Three GAIL employees killed in NLFT strike, The Indian Express, 15 February 2006

    [14]. NLFT militants kill truck driver, The Telegraph, 26 April 2006 

    [15]. Tripura Police Department, available at: http://tripurapolice.nic.in/aachieve.htm

    [16]. NLFT rebels abduct seven CPI(M) activists, The Shillong Times, 12 January 2006

    [17]. Bru rebels abduct Bru leader, The Newslink, 13 June 2006 

    [18]. BLFM release hostage on Peace Day, The Newslink, 4 July 2006

    [19]. Tribal villager kidnapped at Kanchanpur, The Tripurainfo, 20 June 2006 

    [20]. Six tribals kidnapped in West Tripura, The Tripurainfo, 6 September 2006

    [21]. Tribal villager kidnapped at Taidu, The Tripurainfo, 23 November 2006

    [22]. Rebels abduct three labourers, trigger blasts in Tripura, The Shillong Times, 28 December 2006

    [23]. Alarming rise in atrocities on women, suicide, The Tripurainfo, 20 December 2006  

    [24]. Crime against women soar, The Tripurainfo, 29 August 2006

    [25]. Crime against women soar, The Tripurainfo, 29 August 2006

    [26]. Rape slur stalks Assam Rifles - Gangrape charge denied, high-level probe launched, The Telegraph, 14 February 2006

    [27]. Rape victims record statements, AR denies charges, The Shillong Times, 16 February 2006

    [28]. Teary rape victim records statement, The Telegraph, 13 March 2006

    [29]. Tripura prisons under human rights glare, The Telegraph, 27 November 2006 

    [30]. Tripura prisons under human rights glare, The Telegraph, 27 November 2006 

    [31]. Tripura prisons under human rights glare, The Telegraph, 27 November 2006 

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