Guwahati, July 16: The Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), after a failed meeting with the Tripura Government on Sunday, has decided to continue its agitation demanding for a separate state. This means that for the people of Tripura there is no respite in the near future from the the railway and roadway blockade which has already disrupted supply of essential items.
In the meeting which was held on Sunday, representatives of the IPFT and the state government tried reaching a middle ground, but failed, with the latter rejecting the plea of the Government to call off the seven day-old blockade on the state’s national highways and the only railway line. Representatives of the IPFT emphasised that the agitation will not be called off until the Central Government gave them a ‘concrete assurance’.
Commenting on this, IPFT chief, Narendra Chandra Debbarma said, “We have told the officials that we would not withdraw the blockade until the central government gave us a concrete assurance about our separate state demand.” He added,”Our party General Secretary Mevar Kumar Jamatia and youth wing President Dhananjoy Tripura are now camping in New Delhi. They will meet Union Minister of State Kiren Rijiju on Monday. We would decide the future course of action after their meeting.”
The meeting between the Government and the IPFT took place at the state secretariat where a nine-member delegation of the IPFT met with top government officials. Chief Secretary Sanjeev Ranjan and Director General of Police Akhil Kumar Shukla represented the Government in this meet.
The IPFT is of the opinion that the state should communicate with the Centre regarding their demand and fulfill it accordingly. They also stated that this should be decided in a tripartite meeting.
On the other hand, the opposition Congress threatened that they will begin a state-wide agitation if the state government fails to end the blockade. This message was conveyed after a 12-member Congress delegation led by former Minister Laxmi Nag met the state police chief Akhil Kumar Shukla on Saturday.
According to IANS, Nag said, “”For the past six days the IPFT leaders and members are blockading the vital national highway and the lone railway line causing serious distress to the people. The Left government has remained a silent spectator.”
The state government, in this regard, stated that this agitation and unrest in the state is the deed of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who is trying to create a tumultuous situation ahead of the Assembly Elections. Bijan Dhar, state secretary of CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) is of the opinion that the BJP is trying to fool and lure people by making ‘vague promises’ of autonomy.
The BJP reportedly told the IPFT leaders that if the party is voted to power in the 2018 assembly elections in Tripura, it would create a ‘Tribal Autonomous State Council’ to give more autonomy to tribal areas. However, Dhar stated that there is no provision of ‘Autonomous State Council’ in the Constitution.
The IPFT’s demand for a separate state carved out by upgrading the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) areas dates back to 2009. The TTAADC is constituted of 12,16,465 of the state’s 37 lakh population and covers about two-thirds of Tripura’s 10,491 sq.km. area. In this regard, BJP’s tribal wing leader Jishnu Debbarma said, “The BJP, if voted to power, will replace the TTAADC by a state council through which tribal people can get more benefit in real terms.”
The Manik Sarkar government is completely against the demand of the IPFT and has reportedly increased security along the highways to take action against the stir. Regarding the agitation, President of the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl said that the demand for a separate state is unnecessary as Tripura has been the land of tribals for decades.
Hrangkhawl while declining the need for a separate state emphasised that instead of a split people should demand empowerment of the TTAADC. He emphasised that the interest of the tribals can be protected if the TTAADC is made financially strong, there are more land rights for the tribals, promulgation of inner line permit for outsiders and all round development of the council areas is focused.
The agitation which entered its seventh day on Sunday has affected the supply of essentials, including food grain and fuel. The Centre is yet to comment on the issue, although its state unit has already made promises.