Normal life was on Saturday paralysed in Sabroom subdivision of South Tripura district after a dawn-to-dusk bandh was called by the ruling CPI(M) over the death of three tribals, allegedly in firing by the BSF.
Villagers at the remote hamlet of Chitabari on Friday had clashed with the BSF alleging that three of its personnel had tried to molest a tribal woman. Three persons, including the woman, were killed and two others were injured when the security men opened fire.
BSF, in a statement on Saturday, dismissed the molestation allegation and said its personnel had opened fire on “cattle smugglers” who tried to attack them.
A senior police official said shops today downed thier shutters, markets remained closed and vehicles were off the roads. Government offices, banks and financial institutions did not register any attendance. Schools and the lone Sabroom College also remained closed.
SP (Police Control), Bhanupada Chakraborty, quoting the FIR lodged by villagers, said three BSF jawans were accused of attempting to molest a young woman at Chitabari on her way back home last evening after working in a rubber plantation.
When she raised an alarm, villagers rushed to the spot. A clash ensued and the BSF jawans opened fire, killing the woman and two other villagers on the spot, and injuring two others, the FIR said.
The deceased were identified as Suralaxmi Tripura (20), Min Kumar Tripura (38) and Padma Kumar Tripura ((37).
The injured, identified as Jiban Tripura and Shyam Chandra Tripura, were being treated at Sabroom hospital, the SP said.
Chitabari is a remote tribal hamlet near the border which falls under Bhangagarh border outpost (BOP).
IG K V Srijesh and SP Tapan Kumar Debbarma were camping in the area with a huge contingent of forces.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar discussed the matter with DGP K Nagraj and Chief Secretary Sanjib Ranjan immediately after the incident and asked them to collect all relevant information pertaining to it.
State Secretariat of the ruling CPI-M has condemned the incident as “heinous and barbaric” and “a clear attempt to molest the poor tribal woman”.
The party demanded a high-level inquiry into the incident and exemplary punishment to the erring BSF personnel.
Meanwhile, DIG of BSF, Hardeep Singh, today said when BSF personnel observed that 30 to 40 smugglers, including women, were trying to smuggle cattle to Bangladesh through the unfenced gap, they challenged them and opened two rounds of fire in the air as warning shots to disperse them.
The villagers then encircled the BSF party and attacked them with machetes and lathis and sensing their life in danger, BSF opened fire killing three persons, the statement said.
It said they seized ten cattle which were being smuggled from the spot. BSF also ordered an inquiry into the incident.