Two months after they deferred a National Highway blockade, a group of returnee insurgents of Tripura Tuesday announced they will block the Assam-Agartala NH-8 indefinitely from August 19 unless they receive a word on the progress of their demands.
The group is a part of the Deprived Returnees Movement Committee (DRMC), a joint body of surrendered militants in Tripura, including ultras of the banned All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF), which no longer exists and the outlawed National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), of which a few cadres and leaders are in hideouts across the international border, according to security agencies.
Speaking to the media, DRMC general secretary Amrit Reang said they had placed a nine-point charter of demands before the state government. He added tribal welfare minister Rampada Jamatia had held two meetings with the returnee insurgent leaders in June and July this year on the demands.
“When we announced a blockade on June 3, the tribal welfare minister called us for a meeting at his chamber. He said our demands will be fulfilled. All department officials were also in attendance and the minutes were issued after the meeting. Another meeting was held on July 12. But nothing was done on the ground, only minutes were given”, Reang said. The demands included compensation for returnees and rubber plantations for rehabilitation among others.
He also said that as a part of a continued dialogue with government officials for resolution of their demands, the returnees met the tribal welfare director on May 31 over pending assurances of rehabilitation given at the time of surrender.
After the talks ended on an inconclusive note, the surrendered militants announced an indefinite blockade of National Highway-8 in West Tripura district’s Champaknagar from June 5, alleging government failure to rehabilitate them properly. The blockade was postponed after the Chief Minister assured them of a dialogue.
A separate returnee insurgent group had written letters to the Prime Minister, President and senior central government officials seeking a resolution of the unfulfilled demands.
Saying they have waited enough, the returnee leaders Tuesday served time to the state government till August 15 and said, “If our demands aren’t fulfilled or any proper step isn’t taken by then, we shall start indefinite road blockade from 8 am on August 19. Two returnee committees — Joint Action Committee (JAC) and DRMC — have jointly agreed to launch the movement.”
Armed insurgency started in Tripura in the 1960s and swelled in the 1980s and 1990s. The insurgency problems were largely thwarted during the erstwhile Left Front era and the incumbent BJP-led government through a coordinated effort of counter-insurgency operations and lucrative rehabilitation packages.