A row broke out in Tripura on Monday after officials started a drive to demolish party and trade union offices built on public land. In a pre-dawn action, the west Tripura district administration dismantled at least nine structures in Agartala.The Congress and the CPI(M), both in opposition, criticised the action, but admitted that the buildings were on government land. The ruling BJP called the drive “impartial.” Congress workers, led by PCC president Birajit Sinha, staged a sit-in in front of the office of the District Magistrate to condemn what they called unethical demolition of offices of the transport unions owing allegiance to the party. The police took them into preventive custody.The Transport Minister in the Left Front government and CITU leader, Manik Dey, and west Tripura MP Shankar Prasad Datta visited the Old Motorstand area where the structures were dismantled. They alleged that the demolition was done without notice. “I can recall the days of Emergency. The BJP government in the State is showing disrespect to democratic values,” Mr. Dey told journalists. CPI(M) leaders said the trade union offices served as a place for transport workers and passengers to rest. They warned the government of an agitation if it pressed ahead with the drive.Hundreds of paramilitary troops and armed policemen were deployed at midnight before the demolition began. A prohibitory order under Section 144 was imposed in the city.West Tripura District Magistrate Milind Ramteke and Superintendent of Police Ajit Pratap Singh supervised the demolition of concrete structures with the help of bulldozers and a few hundred workers. Several roads were barricaded.Mr. Ramteke said notice was served on the occupants a week ago and was advertised in newspapers. He said the government had identified 104 political and trade union structures built on government land in west Tripura alone. Officials have put the number at 400 across the State and said all of them will be razed.Police officers said the situation in Agartala remained peaceful, but deployment would continue in some parts of the city to maintain law and order.
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