Tripura tribal party to hold talks with Centre over separate statehood

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Agartala, July 13 (IANS) A Tripura tribal party delegation is to hold discussions with the central government over its demand for a separate state even as the party has been blockading a vital national highway and the state’s lone railway track for the past four days, causing hardship to people.

The Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), a tribal dominated party, has been blocking National Highway-8, the life line of Tripura, and the state’s lone railway line to press for its demand for a separate state.

IPFT General Secretary Mevar Kumar Jamatia and the party’s youth wing President Dhananjoy Tripura left here for Delhi on Thursday morning to meet Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh and Home Ministry officials and the Union Home Minister.

The four-day road and rail blockade has caused a crisis in supply of essentials, fuel, basic goods and other items in the markets in Tripura.

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“We would meet Jitendra Singh and Home Ministry officials or the Home Minister to discuss about our demand. Depending on the outcome of the meetings in Delhi, we will either withdraw the blockade or continue the stir,” Mevar Kumar Jamatia told IANS before heading to New Delhi.

“We have already sought the Governor’s intervention and a tri-partite meeting between us, the Centre and state governments to resolve the matter,” he said.

The tribal leader said that since 2009, the IPFT has been agitating for a separate state carved out by upgrading the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) areas. “The Left Front government in the state and the previous UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government at the Centre did not give importance to our demand.”

He said the IPFT leaders earlier held four meetings with the central ministers and officials and the government had assured their demands would be considered.

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“We had our last meeting with Jitendra Singh on May 17 in New Delhi where we discussed our demands and the Minister promised to consider our demand. He also assured that a tri-partite meeting would be convened involving the Centre, state government and the IPFT over our demand.”

Singh is also Minister of State for Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER).

The IPFT leader said: “In Delhi, the National Federation for New States took up the issue with the PMO and Home Ministry. We also submitted a memorandum to the Tripura Governor (Tathagata Roy) demanding his intervention.”

The politically important TTAADC constitutes two-thirds of Tripura’s 10,491 sq km area, which has 12,16,465 (mostly tribals) of the state’s 37 lakh population residing in it.

The Left Front government led by Manik Sarkar, which is strongly opposed to both the demand and the stir, has taken unprecedented security measures in and around the Baramura hill ranges, through which the NH-8 and the lone railway line passes.

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Most of the political parties, including the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have rejected IPFT’s demands saying it is not practical to divide the small state.

State Information and Cultural Affairs Minister Bhanulal Saha said : “The state government once again urges the IPFT to call off the blockade considering the sufferings of the people and possible crisis of essentials, food grains and fuels.”

All the political parties and civil society have vehemently condemned the IPFT workers’ nude dance in front of the media to draw attention to their blockade.



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