Wednesday, May 24, 2000,
Chandigarh, India





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Army deployed in Khowai

AGARTALA, May 23 (UNI) ó The Army was deployed in West Tripuraís trouble-torn Khowai subdivision, even as life was affected in the state today following a statewide bandh called separately by the ruling and opposition parties.

The bandh was called in protest against the ethnic violence in Khowai where at least 45 persons had been killed since Friday.

The paramilitary and state security forces maintained a vigil to prevent fresh violence. Anti-insurgency operation had also been intensified by the security forces.

Shops, business establishments, markets, educational and financial institutions, government and semi-government offices were closed while vehicles stayed off the roads.

However, the Indian Airlines authorities operated their schedule flights on the Agartala-Calcutta and Agartala-Guwahati-New Delhi sectors.

West Tripura District Magistrate Manoj Kumar told UNI here that the curfew would continue for the fourth day today in the Khowai subdivision. The curfew was relaxed for two hours from 10 am, he said, adding that the situation was under control.

While the ruling CPM-(M) led Left Front and the opposition Trinamool Congress-BJP combine had called for a dawn-to-dusk bandh, the Congress had called a 24-hour bandh. The ruling parties called the bandh in protest against the massacre and demanded the immediate airlifting of five battalions of the Army to Tripura. The opposition parties are demanding the imposition of Presidentís rule and resignation of the Left Front Government.

Todayís bandh is the second statewide bandh in the past 36 days in Tripura on similar issues.

About 15,000 affected persons were still in relief camps in Khowai sub-division. Police said 40 people were either detained or arrested so far following the violence.

Meanwhile, responding to the state governmentís demand for five battalions of the Army, the Union Government sanctioned 10 companies of the CRPF. However, these companies were in Tripura as reserve force. No additional force or Army was coming from outside the state, an official spokesman said. Of the 10 companies, four were of Assam Rifles and the remaining the CRPF.

Meanwhile, a Congress delegation, led by opposition leader Jawahar Saha and PCC President Birjit Sinha met Governor Prof Siddheswar Prasad and urged him to recommend to the Centre the promulgation of Presidentís rule in the state.

Front leaders in an urgent message to Defence Minister George Fernandes, demanded five Army battalions. The message, copies of which were also sent to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, said the National Liberation Front of Tripura extremists had participated in the recently concluded Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) election floating an organisation named the Indigenous Peopleís Front of Tripura.

Meanwhile, Mr M.L.Vora, an IPS officer of the Tripura-Manipur cadre of the 1967 batch, today took over charge as the Tripura Director General of Police.
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