Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Monday informed Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar that he will hold talks with a tribal party on Tuesday regarding the demand for a separate tribal state, an official said. The Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) has been blockading National Highway-8, the lifeline of Tripura, and the lone railway line since July 10, leading to shortages of essential commodities, fuel, food grain and other goods of basic necessities.
“On the directions of Union Home Minister (Rajnath Singh), Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju on Monday talked to Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and told him he would talk to IPFT leaders on Tuesday afternoon,” the Home Department official said.
Rijiju is said to have conveyed to the Chief Minister that Rajnath Singh had authorised him to talk to IPFT leaders staying in Delhi.
Rajnath Singh had assured Sarkar on phone on Sunday that he would look into the issue of ongoing road and rail blockade by the tribal party. IPFT General Secretary Mevar Kumar Jamatia and the front’s youth wing President Dhananjoy Tripura have been camping in New Delhi since Thursday.
The IPFT has been agitating since 2009 for a separate state to be carved out by upgrading the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), which has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura’s 10,491 sq.km. area, housing 12,16,465 (mostly tribals) of the state’s 37-lakh population.
Most political parties, including the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist, the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party, and Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura have rejected the IPFT’s demand, saying it is not practical to divide the already small state.
State Congress President Birajit Sinha said on Monday that the IPFT’s separate state demand would create ethnic turmoil and communal riot in the otherwise peaceful state.
BJP leader Sunil Deodhar said on Monday that the situation arising out of the IPFT’s road and rail blockade should be handled by the state’s Left Front government as the state’s Left parties are responsible for the prevailing situation.
The BJP leader said that from Tuesday the party would launch an agitation, including ‘gherao’ (forcibly confining) of the Chief Minister,against the Left Front government’s failure to deal with the road blockade issue.
On Sunday, Chief Secretary Sanjeev Ranjan and Director General of Police Akhil Kumar Shukla and other officials talked to a delegation of the IPFT and urged them to withdraw the blockade.
However, the IPFT leaders, led by party President Narenda Chandra Debbarma, asserted they would continue with their agitation till the Centre held out a positive assurance on their demand.