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Explained: What is ‘Greater Tipraland’ and why are tribal outfits in Tripura pushing for it

The demand has grown louder to carve out a separate state of 'Greater Tipraland' for the indigenous communities in Tripura under Article 2 and 3 of the Constitution.

Greater Tipraland, Greater Tipraland demand, Tripura tribal land, Tripura news, Greater Tipraland demand explainedAt the dharna site in Delhi's Jantar Mantar. (Twitter/PradyotManikya)

Several tribal outfits in Tripura have joined hands to push their demand for a separate state for indigenous communities in the region, arguing that their “survival and existence” was at stake. They staged a dharna at Jantar Mantar on November 30 and December 1 with the demand, which at least three political parties – the Congress, Shiv Sena and AAP – have promised to take up with the Union government.

Among the political parties that have come together for the cause are TIPRA Motha (Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance) and IPFT (Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura), which had so far been rivals in the electoral fray.

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What is their main demand?

The parties are demanding a separate state of ‘Greater Tipraland’ for the indigenous communities of the north-eastern state. They want the Centre to carve out the separate state under Article 2 and 3 of the Constitution. Among the 19 notified Scheduled Tribes in Tripura, Tripuris (aka Tipra and Tiprasas) are the largest. According to the 2011 census, there are at least 5.92 lakh Tripuris in the state, followed by Reangs (1.88 lakh) and Jamatias (83,000).

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What does the Constitution say?

Article 2 of the Constitution deals with admission or establishment of new states. “Parliament may by law admit into the Union, or establish, new States on such terms and conditions, as it thinks fit,” it states. Article 3 comes into play in the case of “formation of new States and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing States” by the Parliament.

How did the demand originate?

Tripura was a kingdom ruled by the Manikya dynasty from the late 13th century until the signing of the Instrument of Accession with the Indian government on October 15, 1949.

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka chaturvedi at a dharna at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar demanding a separate state for the tribal natives of Tripura. (Twitter/PradyotManikya)

The demand mainly stems from the anxiety of the indigenous communities in connection with the change in the demographics of the state, which has reduced them to a minority. It happened due to the displacement of Bengalis from the erstwhile East Pakistan between 1947 and 1971. From 63.77 per cent in 1881, the population of the tribals in Tripura was down to 31.80 per cent by 2011. In the intervening decades, ethnic conflict and insurgency gripped the state, which shares a nearly 860-km long boundary with Bangladesh. The joint forum has also pointed out that the indigenous people have not only been reduced to a minority, but have also been dislodged from land reserved for them by the penultimate king of the Manikya dynasty Bir Bikram Kishore Debbarman.

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What has been done to address the grievances of indigenous communities?

The Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTADC) was formed under the sixth schedule of the Constitution in 1985 to ensure development and secure the rights and cultural heritage of the tribal communities. The TTADC, which has legislative and executive powers, covers nearly two-third of the state’s geographical area. The council comprises 30 members of which 28 are elected while two are nominated by the Governor. Also, out of the 60 Assembly seats in the state, 20 are reserved for Scheduled Tribes. ‘Greater Tipraland’ envisages a situation in which the entire TTADC area will be a separate state. It also proposes dedicated bodies to secure the rights of the Tripuris and other aboriginal communities living outside Tripura.

What was the immediate trigger for the dharna?

The churn in the state’s politics with the rise of TIPRA Motha and the Assembly polls due in early 2023 are the two major reasons behind the development. TIPRA Motha, led by Pradyot Debbarman who is the titular head of the royal family, won a majority in this year’s TTADC polls, leaving the IPFT, which is an ally of the ruling BJP, with a diminished influence.

In the lead up to the 2018 Assembly polls, the IPFT had captured the imagination of the tribal electorate as it aggressively campaigned with the demand for a separate state of “Twipraland”. After the elections, it joined the BJP-led Cabinet and lowered its pitch. In 2018, the Centre formed a 13-member committee to address tribal grievances. However, that committee has met only around three times in the last four years, according to an IPFT leader.

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Pradyot has so far been successful in occupying the space vacated by the IPFT, leaving it with no choice but to join hands with him. During the two-day dharna, Congress MP Deepender Hooda, Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi and AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh addressed the gathering of supporters at Jantar Mantar. Incidentally, Pradyot had quit the Congress in 2019 after serving as the working president of its Tripura unit.

First published on: 03-12-2021 at 04:50:09 pm
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