Agartala, July 18 (IANS) The BJP on Tuesday gheraoed Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and other ministers’ residences demanding removal of road and rail blocks put up for over a week by a tribal party demanding a separate state, police said.
Around 1,500 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members put up barricades in six different places encircling the residences of Sarkar and four ministers, the police said.
The ministers were Health Minister Badal Choudhury, Tribal Welfare Minister Aghore Debbarma, Jail Minister Manindra Reang and Education Minister Tapan Chakraborty.
Sarkar and his ministerial colleagues were confined to their official residences since early morning of Tuesday.
A large contingent of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Tripura State Rifles (TSR) and state police led by top police officials took position in and around the barricaded places and the gheraoed residences.
A tense situation prevailed. Movement of traffic was also largely affected.
A weekly cabinet meeting scheduled at 11 a.m. at the Civil Secretariat could also not be held.
“It could not be held as the Chief Minister and other ministers were unable to come to their offices in “Mahakaran” at the Capital Complex (seven km from here),” a top official of Chief Minister’s secretariat said.
BJP leader Sunil Deodhar on Monday evening announced the launch of this agitation, including ‘gherao’ of the Chief Minister demanding withdrawal of indefinite road and rail blockade by the IPFT (Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura) demanding a separate tribal state.
“We have launched the agitation for indefinite period as the Left Front government has failed to deal with the road blockade issue,” BJP General Secretary Pratima Bhowmik said demanding Sarkar’s resignation.
The IPFT has been blockading the NH-8, the state’s lifeline, and a lone railway line since July 10, leading to shortage of essential commodities, fuel, food grain and other goods of basic necessity.
A Tripura government’s release said Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Monday has informed Sarkar that he will hold talks with the IPFT leaders on Tuesday afternoon.
IPFT General Secretary Mevar Kumar Jamatia and the front’s youth wing President Dhananjoy Tripura have been camping in New Delhi since Thursday.
Sarkar on Sunday spoke to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and requested him to speak with the tribal party to withdraw the blockade.
Opposition Congress on Monday night called a 12-hour shutdown in Tripura on Wednesday to protest what it called “conspiracy of the BJP ahead of state assembly elections and to instigate tribal parties to create chaos in the state”.
The Congress also accused the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front government for “remaining silent over the eight-day blockade by the IPFT”.
Most political parties have rejected the IPFT’s demand, saying it was not practical to divide the already small state.