A high power committee constituted by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to probe socio-economic, cultural and linguistic problems faced by Tripura’s tribal communities is visiting Tripura since Thursday. The committee was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on January 8 this year in response to a demand placed by the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT).
In a deputation to the team, Tripura’s ruling alliance partner IPFT demanded ‘Tipraland’ — a proposed separate state for tribals. Tipraland was the main agenda of IPFT before February 18 assembly elections this year.
“……while making recommendation to make the suitable steps for addressing the issues related to socio, economic, educational, linguistic, cultural etc. problems of the tribals of the state, the High Level Committee should make serious attempts to find out the reasons behind the demand for the separate state of ‘Tipraland’ and address the related issues accordingly”, IPFT memorandum submitted to the MHA high power committee said.
Meanwhile, ruling BJP has demanded to develop Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) into an autonomous state council which would grant it additional power and provisions for direct funding from the centre.
Unlike its ally, BJP has remained silent on the statehood issue. Instead, the party sought special economic package, fund allocation to promote tourist spots, a creation of scope for more trade in the ADC areas.
BJP ST Morcha, which met the High Power Committee Thursday evening, also demanded a ‘Tripura Regiment’ in the state armed force for better employment opportunities for tribal youths.
BJP ST Morcha president Rampada Jamatia said his party had placed a set of suggestions before the committee for the overall development of Tripura’s indigenous communities.
The saffron party suggested adopting Devanagari script for Kokborok language and appealed for its inclusion in CBSE and ICSE curriculum. The demand was met with severe opposition from the tribal intellectuals. David Debbarma, a tribal youth activist, said Kokborok should be introduced in school curriculum with the Roman script and not with the Devanagari.
BJP also demanded to cover TTAADC under Para 3A of the Sixth Schedule of Indian Constitution in addition to Centre’s Amendment Bill, 2015 to grant it direct funding and improved land right provisions.
A five-member delegation of the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT) led by party president Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl met the delegation and sought Inner Line Permit and implementation of NRC revision in Tripura to safeguard identity and interests of indigenous people.
Later, a delegation of opposition CPI(M)-led Left Front also met members of the high level committee and submitted a memorandum with 7-point demands that include all-round development of Tripura instead of isolated focus on people of tribal origin, unity and integrity of the state, upholding secular and democratic values, initiative for regular recruitment of tribal youths in various government departments, inclusion of ‘Kokborok’ – lingua franca of indigenous communities of the state in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India among others.
In a press conference at CPI(M) state headquarters Friday evening, Left Front convener Bijan Dhar said issues pertaining to social, economic, health, land rights and other issues which concerned tribal communities were placed before the committee.
The left alliance reiterated their opposition to direct funding from the central government to TTAADC Friday and sought yearly allocation of funds from the centre through the state government.
In an oblique reference to ruling BJP, the delegation also sought recourse against “a particular political force”, who they alleged to have ulterior motives in enforcing religious understanding among the tribal communities.
“..(they) shall stand as a stumbling block against the all-round development of tribal people in the state”, the memorandum submitted to the high-level committee said.
Opposition Congress said the party would send its demands to MHA shortly.