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One man shot dead in police firing as refugee resettlement stokes violence in Tripura

One man shot dead in police firing as refugee resettlement stokes violence in Tripura

Demonstrators block the national highway in Dolubari village of North Tripura district in protest against the rehabilitation of Bru refugees from Mizoram in the state

Agartala: One man was killed and 5 others injured on Saturday when police fired on an agitating mob, who went berserk while observing a shutdown during a protest that had been on for the past six days in northern Tripura to oppose the government's decision to rehabilitate thousands of tribal refugees.

These refugees had fled to adjoining Mizoram 23 years ago following ethnic strife in the state.

Police said that 45-years-old Srikanta Das was shot dead and five others seriously injured when police had to open fire on the agitating mob that subsequently attacked the security forces at Panisagar in North Tripura district.

"Huge contingent of security forces including Tripura State Rifles troopers led by senior police officials were mobilised in Panisagar and Kanchanpur sub-divisions (in North Tripura District) to deal with the explosive situation," a police official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Normal life has been crippled in northern Tripura's Kanchanpur sub-division for the sixth day on Saturday with tensions running high. The situation remained explosive as the Joint Movement Committee called shutdown for an indefinite period to protest the Tripura and Central governments' decision to rehabilitate around 35,000 Reang tribal refugees, who had fled to adjoining Mizoram in October 1997 following the ethnic conflict.

The agitations since Thursday extended in the nearby sub-divisions and districts as the state administrations did not take any steps to quell the situations and hold any talks with the protesters.

According to police, the situation in the mixed populated sub-division further deteriorated after a few tribal refugees attacked a non-tribal pump operator, 36 houses of non-tribals on Tuesday evening forcing over 110 people to flee to safer places.

Kanchanpur Sub-Divisional Police Officer Bikramjit Sukladas said that the government offices, markets, shops and business establishments remained closed while all types of vehicles, except those of the security forces, health services and the media, remained off the roads.

Kanchanpur's Sub-Divisional Magistrate Chandni Chandran told IANS that the government is yet to finalise the locations and number of refugee family members to be rehabilitated in her sub-division, adjoining Mizoram.

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