Pradyot Debbarman, son of the last king of Tripura Kirit Bikram Kishore Manikya, will move a writ petition in the Supreme Court on Monday demanding NRC in the state, days after the apex court issued a notice to the Centre on a similar plea. The October 8 notice was issued on a plea by a forum called Tripura People’s Front (TPF).
Debbarman, working president of the Tripura Congress, said there cannot be “different rules for different states” in India when it comes to citizenship.
The demand for a separate state will be negated if NRC is implemented, he said. “Implement NRC and the demand for a separate state will dilute, people demanding Tipraland are doing so because they feel they have lost all rights within the state of Tripura,” he told the Indian Express over telephone from Agartala. Debbarman was recently appointed the All India Congress secretary for Sikkim,
Senior Supreme Court advocate and former Union minister Salman Khurshid will represent Debbarman.
Debbarman said it was up to the SC to decide a cut-off date. “The Constitution of India mentions a cut-off date . My appeal is that either the government of India amend the law or abide by it. There cannot be different rules for different states in India when it comes to citizenship,” he said.
Sources said the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), led by erstwhile militant leader Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl, had also firmed up a plan to move the SC demanding NRC.
Asked about concerns that a demand for NRC could spark fresh ethnic clashes in the state, which was hit by insurgency till about 2008, Debbarman wondered why such questions never came up before executing NRC in neighbouring Assam.
“Is insurgency only in Tripura and not elsewhere in the Northeast ? I am asking for our constitutional right as an Indian, and if the government of India is earnest, they will take measures to ensure that genuine Indians get first preference compared to illegal migrants. Why give insurgents the space and chance to spread the propaganda that the country is being unfair to genuine citizens?” he said.
Debbarman stressed that his petition was not about deportation but safeguarding of rights of original inhabitants through disenfranchisement of those who entered illegally. “I am not against Bengalis, why should I be? We acknowledge the work done by eminent Bengalis, Manipuris and Nepalese community for our state during those times. Tripura is as much theirs as anybody else’s but lets not mix up this fact.
“All I am saying is implement the law or change it constitutionally. There are a lot of old families who have resided in Tripura even before the merger. Why should we have any problem with them? Our issue is that post-merger with India, scores of people came to our state illegally,” he said.