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Tripura HC asks central and state govts to conduct study on endangered Karbong community

The court instructed the governments to form a team of appropriate officials who will have to visit the areas where people of the community inhabit, make an assessment on their needs and submit the findings in an affidavit by November 9.

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala |
October 19, 2021 4:02:50 pm
The court also directed the governments to undertake any steps which might be essentially necessary during the assessment without awaiting further directions. (File)

The High Court of Tripura Monday admitted a suo motu Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on Karbong, an endangered community of the Tripuri tribes, and asked the central and state governments to conduct a study on the community and submit findings in an affidavit by November 9.

A division bench of the high court comprising newly appointed Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Subhashish Talapatra admitted a PIL based on an article published in a local daily on the Karbong community facing extinction.

The bench appointed advocate Harekrishna Bhowmik as amicus curiae for the court and instructed the governments to form a team of appropriate officials who will have to visit the areas where people of the community inhabit, make an assessment of their needs and submit the report.

The court also directed the governments to undertake any steps which might be essentially necessary during the assessment without awaiting further directions.

Amicus curiae Harekrishna Bhowmik told indianexpress.com that the case was listed for next hearing on November 12.

On Mother Language Day (February 21) this year, Tripura felicitated Rabi Mohan Karbong, representative of the endangered ethno-linguistic tribal group, and announced that steps would be taken to rename different places in indigenous tribal dialects as a sign of respect and recognition to the communities.

According to the 2011 census, Tripura had 36,73,917 people, of which roughly 70 percent are non-tribals and 30 percent from 19 tribal communities. The state’s population is estimated to have gone over 41 lakh people in 2021 as per the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) data.

Among the different tribal communities living in Tripura, few like the Chaimal or Chaimaar, Bongcher, Bong and Korbong have low clan populations. As per UNESCO classification of languages, any language spoken by less than 10,000 people is deemed ‘potentially endangered’.

The UNESCO World Atlas of Languages estimates that there are over 600 potentially endangered oral languages in India. Andaman’s Bo language disappeared with the death of the last woman speaking it in 2010, so did the Majhi language of Sikkim in 2015.

While most of the Tripuri tribal clans speak their own language, a vast majority speak Kokborok, the language of the Boroks. As per government estimates, 8,14,375 people from Reang, Jamatia, Noatia, Kalai, Rupini, Murasing and Uchoi communities speak Kokborok language in Tripura, which has become lingua franca of the majority of the Tripuri tribes.

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