Reiterating its demand for a separate statehood, the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT)–ally of the ruling BJP–on Thursday held a 24-hour strike in the tribal council areas of the state, disrupting normal life. Over 600 IPFT workers have been detained.
The IPFT held strike across all Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), which comprises 70 percent of the state’s geographical land mass. The bandh was held to raise five demands including the formation of ‘Tipraland’, speedy implementation of recommendations made by the MHA-appointed high power modality committee on problems faced by tribal communities, filling up of vacant posts in ADC administration and inclusion of Kokborok, lingua franca of Tripura’s tribal communities in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution.
Vehicular movement, shops, trading concerns wore a deserted look throughout the day and attendance in government offices was found less than usual. The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) had canceled all passengers’ train movement for the day after the strike was announced two days back.
Speaking to reporters, IPFT spokesperson Mangal Debbarma said their movement would continue and expand in future if the demands were not met.
“Our strike has received spontaneous support from people. Everything was shut down. We feel the strike was successful. This government promised a lot of things before coming to power but once they have assumed office, nothing is being done for the tribals. We shall continue and expand our agitation in future if our demands are not met”, Debbarma said.
The tribal leader informed that a delegation of his party leaders led by IPFT general secretary and Forest minister Mevar Kumar Jamatia yesterday left for Delhi to meet BJP president JP Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah to place their demands before them. The team also has MLA Brishketu Debbarma, MLA Dhananjay Tripura, MLA Sindhu Chandra Jamatia and MLA Prasant Debbarma on board.
Additional Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Subrata Chakraborty told reporters that the strike went peacefully and no major incidents of disturbance of untoward incidents were seen.
Formed in the 1990s, IPFT was floated with the objective of forming ‘Tipraland’ – a separate state for tribal communities of Tripura. The party underwent several splits with splinter groups emerging from it till it resurfaced in 2009 under its current supremo NC Debbarma. It forged an alliance with the BJP before Tripura’s 2018 assembly elections and formed a coalition government.
The party’s prime demand of separate statehood hasn’t seen much progress yet, though a high power committee was formed by MHA to study social, cultural, economic and linguistic problems faced by tribal communities in the state and find out solutions to them.
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