Tripura tightens security ahead of tribal outfit’s blockade call

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Agartala, June 21 (IANS) Security has been beefed up in Tripura after a tribal outfit called for rail and road blockade on Wednesday to press its demand for a separate state.

The Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), which has been agitating for the past few years for creation of a separate state, has called for the rail and road blockade at Baramura hill range in western Tripura.

“We have made adequate security measures in and around the rail and road blockade sites. Tripura State Rifles and central paramilitary forces would be deployed in the areas,” Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Anurag told IANS.

“Suitable security measures have been put in place. Senior police officials would supervise the situation and steps would be taken,” he added.

The IPFT wants the separate state to be carved out of Tripura, by upgrading the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC). The ruling Left Front is now at the helm of the TTAADC, which was formed by amending the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution in 1985.

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IPFT President Narandra Chandra Debbarma accused the Left Front government of creating the TTAADC only as a “lame duck institution” having no real powers.

“The fundamental problems of the people have not been solved. Tribals continue to lose their land. Even the state of affairs of the Kokborok language of the indigenous tribal people is miserable,” Debbarma told IANS.

He said the tribals were once a majority in Tripura, but their condition is precarious now.

“We submitted an eight-page memorandum to the union Home Ministry last year. The ministry officials said our demand would be considered positively. Talks between the leaders of IPFT and the central government would continue,” the IPFT chief said.

The Left Front, opposition Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and other political parties have strongly opposed the IPFT’s demand for a separate state.

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They said the demand would encourage outlawed militant groups to regain foothold in the state.

CPI-M central committee member Gautam Das said: “A small state like Tripura cannot be divided further. They (IPFT) are merely trying to regain relevance in the state politics by raising such an impractical demand.”

“The IPFT’s demand would only encourage the demands of the extremists and inimical forces,” he told IANS.

Chief Minister Manik Sarkar has rejected the demand, saying that the Left Front government would not allow any attempt to divide the state. Sarkar also said that he would resist any such move with all his might.

The CPI-M, its tribal frontal organisation Tripura Upajati Gana Mukti Parishad, two tribal youth wings — Tribal Youth Federation (TYF) and Tribal Students Union (TSU) — organised mammoth rallies here over the past one month, strongly denouncing the demand for a separate state.

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BJP spokesman Mrinal Kanti Debnath said his party also strongly opposed the demand.

“Tribals in Tripura are deprived in many vital segments. Some political parties are exploiting the sentiment of the tribals,” Debnath told IANS.

The Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) opposed the demand for a separate state but said more powers should be given to the TTAADC and development of the tribal areas should be stepped up.

The TTAADC, which has been playing a key role in the socio-economic development of tribals, has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura’s geographical area of 10,491.69 sq km.

Over 12.16 lakh people, more than 90 per cent of whom are tribals, reside in the areas administered by the Council.



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