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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Tripura body claims presence of armed Bangladeshi activists in state, urges central probe

Tiprasa Hoda convener Birendra Tripura alleges that armed UPDF gangs in Dhalai district are guarding camps of illegal Chakma immigrants

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala |
Updated: July 29, 2021 1:08:23 pm
Council of Tiprasa Hoda convener Dhirendra Tripura addressing a press conference at Agartala. (Express photo/Debraj Deb)

The Council of Tiprasa Hoda, an apex body of ten indigenous socio-cultural organisations of Tripura, Tuesday claimed that members of the United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF), a radical political party based in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of neighbouring Bangladesh, are camping in Tripura with sophisticated arms and may pose a threat to national security.

Earlier this month, the council had written to Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah seeking to identify and deport illegal Chakma migrants.

Speaking to reporters in Agartala Tuesday evening, Tiprasa Hoda convener Birendra Tripura said the body was not against people of the ethnic Chakma community but had written to the Home Minister regarding illegal immigrants among them, who have purportedly taken up an extensive initiative to purchase large tracts of land using foreign funding.

“From 2001 to 2011, Chakmas have shown abnormal population growth in Tripura. The Jamatia community grew by 11 per cent in this timeframe against 24 per cent among the Chakmas. We have collected reports through our people which show many Chakmas from Bangladesh are illegally coming to India, getting Indian documents through illegal means and purchasing large tracts of land here,” Tripura said.

Opposition leader Manik Sarkar speaking to media at Agartala. (Express photo/Debraj Deb)

“We want the central and state governments to hold an inquiry into the issue. Several government employees of Tripura are involved in the illegal immigration of Chakmas here,” Dilip Kumar Debbarma, a Tiprasa Hoda leader, said.

Tripura added that members of the Tiprasa Hoda saw camps guarded by armed gangs at Narikel Kunja, a famous tourist spot in Gandacherra of Dhalai district. These men, he claimed, are UPDF activists who possess sophisticated weapons.

UPDF is a political party formed in 1998 to fight for the right of self-determination of the indigenous peoples of CHT by means of full autonomy. The party has had several run-ins with Bangladeshi security agencies and many of its activists have been arrested or killed in conflicts with security forces.

In their letter to Shah on July 16, the council had written, “…there are one or two camps at Narikel Kunja set up by the illegal migrant Chakma, which is manned by armed gangs with sophisticated ammunitions and it is instrumental for all these illegal activities”.

The letter claimed that the purported camp functions as a unit for facilitating “incessant flow” of Bangladeshi Chakmas and that it has set up illegal poultry farms and orchards on khas (government) land.

Chakma National Council of India (CNCI) vice-president Aniruddha Chakma rejected the allegations, saying they were “baseless” and were probably part of a “political ploy”. He, however, did not point fingers at any particular political party but said Chakmas were deliberately targeted as illegal immigrants.

“We are historically sons of the soil here. There is so much discrimination against us, despite the fact that we are recognised as Scheduled Tribe (ST) in many states. If they have any proof, let them show it. This sort of baseless allegation is unfortunate and painful,” he said.

Leader of Opposition in Tripura, Manik Sarkar, who had earlier faced criticism for forwarding the Tiprasa Hoda letter to Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb and calling it a “matter of serious concern”, clarified Tuesday that he had sent the letter since the CPI(M) was opposed to any conspiracy to divide tribals and non-tribals in Tripura.

“I have sent the letter. We shall wait. We want peace and unity between communities to prevail. If there is any effort to disturb it, everyone should unite,” Sarkar told a press conference here.

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