Slogans of ‘Poila Jati Ulo Party’ (Jati first, party later), ‘Maharaj Ki Jay’ and ‘Withdraw Citizenship Bill’ rang out loud and clear at a massive protest rally against the legislation at Khumulwng, headquarters of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous Territorial Council, on Wednesday.
The anti-citizenship bill agitation was called by Tripura United Indigenous People’s Council (TUIPC), a joint body of 48 returnee insurgent organisations in the state. However, different tribal political parties like Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT), National Conference of Tripura (NCT), IPFT Tipraha – a breakaway faction of Tripura’s ruling tribal ally IPFT – joined the agitation today.
Addressing the rally, Tripura royal scion Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma, whom all anti-citizenship bill protesters unilaterally accepted as their leader, said the Bill would bring division and peril to Northeast India if passed. He also said that people of Tripura would not allow the Centre to pass the Bill in Rajya Sabha or enforce it through an ordinance.
“Entire Tripura is against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. This doesn’t have to do anything with religion, community or any other identity. This vote bank politics is being played by the (central) government at Delhi. This bill will divide our society. This is not a fight of any particular community but we will fight it together,” Tripura royal scion Pradyot Kishore Manikya told a massive gathering of 15,000 people at Khumulwng Motorstand this afternoon.
Pradyot Kishore, who is also the Working President of Tripura Pradesh Congress, today said that BJP-led NDA placed the Citizenship Amendment Bill three months before the Parliament elections to divide and polarise people of the country.
“Placing this Bill three months before the election means you want to divide and polarise the people and win taking advantage of the situation. We are opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill Across political party lines. There is no banner or flags. This is a non-political rally. There is only one want Poila Jati Ulo Party,” he said.
Later today, a group of agitators garlanded an effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with shoes and slippers as a sign of protest against the citizenship bill and held a 6-km long rally from Dasharampara till Khumulwng Motorstand. The protesters also walked with black flags to protest the legislation.
Tight security was seen in and around the protest venue.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, an official from Tripura state police headquarters said the rally was held peacefully and there was no report of violence. However, tight security was maintained ahead of the movement to avert any untoward situation, he informed.
Former All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) supremo and TUIPC chief Ranjit Debbarma said the citizenship bill would endanger identity and existence of people in Northeast India.
“This bill, if passed, will cause job opportunity, availability of resources to further shrink. It will be dangerous if the Bill is passed in the Rajya Sabha or enforced through an ordinance,” Ranjit told reporters after the rally.
Kahamjoy Tripura, a Tripuri youth from Jirania sub-division who came to join the rally today, said he would support the protesters with all might. “This Bill is bad for us. Maharaja is right. We should think about our identity first and then about politics. All tribal community is with him,” he said.