New Delhi, March 1 (IANS) A tribal-based party in Tripura on Wednesday launched a three-day protest here against the central government’s citizenship bill and demanding a separate state in Tripura.
Members of the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), a leading non-Left opposition party, launched the demonstration at Jantar Mantar in the heart of the capital.
Around 350 IPFT members and supporters began the sit-in. It will continue until Friday evening, IPFT President Narendra Chandra Debbarma told IANS in Agartala.
Debbarma, who could not attend the agitation due to poor health, said an IPFT delegation was likely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajanath Singh.
The IPFT, along with two other tribal based parties – The Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) and the National Conference of Tripura (NCT) – has formed the All Tripura Indigenous Regional Parties Forum (ATIRPF) to oppose the citizenship bill introduced by the Modi government.
The ATIRPF observed a 12-hour shutdown in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) areas on February 8.
The bill seeks to enable Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who fled to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh without valid travel documents or with documents that have expired in recent years, to acquire Indian citizenship through the process of naturalisation.
The IPFT has been agitating for the creation of a separate state, carved out by upgrading the TTAADC areas.
The TTAADC was formed in 1987 to protect and safeguard the political, economic and cultural interests of the tribals.
The Council covers two thirds of Tripura’s 10,491 sq km area.
Tribals play a crucial role in politics in ethnically mixed Tripura as a third of the 60 assembly seats are reserved for them — as is one of the two Lok Sabha seats.
The IPFT’s demand has been rejected by almost all political parties, including the ruling CPI-M.