Guwahati, Saturday, December 3, 2011
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Tripura to probe firing by forest guards

 Agartala, Dec 3 (IANS): The Tripura government on Saturday ordered a magisterial probe into the killing of a tribal woman and injuries to another villager in the firing by forest guards a day earlier while all political parties called a 12-hour shutdown in parts of southern Tripura to protest the incident.

The opposition Congress has demanded a judicial inquiry.

The ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has also asked the Left Front government to conduct a high-level investigation to ascertain why the guards opened fire and book those responsible for the casualties.

"A team of forest guards held two villagers at Matrangibari in southern Tripura for collecting wood illegally," a police spokesman told reporters.

"When the detainees were taken to the forest (department) vehicle, some villagers cordoned off the forest staffs, forcing them to open fire, killing 22-year-old Sabida Reang Friday," he added.

A middle-aged villager, Jitendra Reang, was also critically injured in the firing and was shifted to the G.B. Pant Medical College and Hospital here.

"A forest guard was arrested by the police for firing from his service self-loading rifle (SLR). Additional police personnel led by senior officials have been posted in the tension ridden area," the police spokesman said.

South Tripura District Magistrate M.L. Dey, district police chief Rajesh Sharma and leaders of all major political parties have been gathered in the area, 65 km from Agartala.

Life was crippled in parts of Amarpur sub-division and adjoining areas of southern Tripura Saturday as the main political parties, including the CPI-M and the Congress, called for the dawn-to-dusk shutdown to protest the firing and demand high-level probe.

Most markets, shops and business establishments remained shut in the areas while roads were deserted.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar expressed his grief over the incident and said in a statement: "The incident was unexpected and must be avoided."

The Tripura government has ordered a separate high-level inquiry by forest officials into the incident.

"A chief conservator of forest will probe the incident and submit a report within three days," Forest Minister Jitendra Chowdhury told IANS.

Tension still ran high in the tribal-dominated Matrangibari village and adjoining areas after the incident.

The state government has disbursed financial assistance to the families of the victims in the incident, which sparked off a political storm in the Left-ruled state.

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