Updated: August 23, 2018 10:33:14 pm
‘Bharat Sarkar Hamare Mange Pura Karo’, ‘No Tipraland, No Rest’ – slogans rang out loud and clear at Khumulwng Academy Grounds in the Tripura Tribal Area Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) headquarters here Thursday as the state’s ruling ally Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) observed 10th Tipraland Demand Day.
IPFT was raised in 1997 with slogans of self-determination of indigenous communities and demanded a separate state for them. The party underwent several splits till it merged with Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT) and resurfaced in 2009 with the slogan of ‘Tipraland’ – a proposed separate state for indigenous communities living in Tripura.
IPFT has observed statehood demand on August 23 ever since then. The 10th ‘Tipraland Demand Day’ was observed here this afternoon.
Apart from IPFT president and Tripura Revenue Minister Narendra Chandra Debbarma and Minister for Tribal Welfare Mevar Kumar Jamatia, Assam Agriculture minister and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) president Atul Bora, Peoples’ Joint Action Committee for Boroland Movement (PJACBM) chief convener Rakesh Bora, National Democratic Front of Boroland – Peace (NDFBP) general secretary Gobinda Basumatary, All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) leader Lawrence Islary, National Federation of New States (NFNS) working president SG Sanyal and others joined the statehood observances today and pledged support to ‘Tipraland’.
A mammoth gathering of nearly ten thousand supporters gathered at Khumulwng Academy grounds to listen to leaders of statehood movement today.
Addressing the rally, IPFT president NC Debbarma said his party would not stop struggling for ‘Tipraland’, though they have joined state government in Tripura with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He said people have chosen BJP and IPFT to power in Tripura to end 25 years of left misrule and the government would have to listen to the people.
Debbarma also said Tipraland is peoples’ demand, in an oblique reference that agreement to Tipraland is a pre-requisite of landslide mandate which rocketed the BJP-IPFT combine to power in February 18 state assembly election this year.
CPI (M)-led Left Front, which ruled Tripura for last 25 years since 1993, was reduced from 51 seats in the 60-member state assembly to 16 seats in assembly polls this year. BJP-IPFT combine together emerged victorious in 44 seats and formed government. IPFT has since claimed credit of the victory saying indigenous people single-handedly voted for BJP in the seats where the party contested.
Referring the issue, NC Debbarma today said his party has done many “welfare works” with BJP for indigenous people including tribal student hostels, more funding for TTAADC, initiatives to sanction special development drive in tribal areas. He also said IPFT would not steer clear from statehood demand at any cost.
IPFT general secretary and tribal welfare minister Mevar Kumar Jamatia claimed his party has gained a “much larger” support base since it formed state government with BJP. The indigenous party now has eight members in Tripura Assembly and two ministers in the cabinet. It was recently recognized as a state party by the Election Commission of India (ECI).
“One needs land, rods, bricks, sand, cement and other materials to build a building. Similarly, for Tipraland, we need to go through a step-by-step process. We want Tipraland to be formed with land area under the ADC and we are now a recognized state party. We have much more supporters and shall continue our struggle for statehood,” Mevar said.
He also said National Register of Citizens (NRC) should be revised in Tripura and added the revision might as well be done in other states. Contrary to IPFT’s demand, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb has earlier rubbished NRC revision in Tripura and said there was no such public demand here.
On the CM’s statement, Jamatia quoted BJP president Amit Shah and said that all states of the country would undergo NRC revision if BJP came to power in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In a significant development, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) which has so far opposed statehood demands, today joined the event and said it would support ‘Tipraland’.
NFNS working president SG Sanyal said united struggle would reap benefits in achieving the demand. He urged all statehood demand leaders of the country to band together ahead of coming Parliament polls.
“Tipraland demand is a legitimate demand, there is no mistaking there. But the demand was floated a decade back and there is no progress. 2019 Lok Sabha election is coming ahead. It is high time to show our unified struggle,” he said.
Sanyal also asked Tipraland supporters to join hands with Gorkhaland, Vidarbha, Karbi Anglong, Kukiland and other statehood movements to gain larger voice. Meanwhile, thunderous claps resounded in the grounds today as people found support to their demands in the event.
“Indigenous people were not developed in Tripura. We have heard many assurances from CPIM, Congress and BJP. We want Tipraland. It is the only solution. NC Debbarma is our leader. We have full faith on him”, Bimal Jamatia, a 52-year-old man who came to join the event at Khumulwng today, said.
He added that indigenous communities of Tripura live in villages deprived of commonplace modern amenities like power, safe drinking water, road connectivity etc.
Achak Debbarma, 23, said the youth force is in support of IPFT and would not rest till ‘Tipraland’ is achieved.
Earlier in July last year, IPFT supporters blockaded National Highway 8 and railway tracks for 10 days in the Baramura Hills, 35 Km from Agartala, in demand of ‘Tipraland’. The movement was later withdrawn after the erstwhile Left Front government threatened police action. IPFT supporters also drew widespread criticism after they held a naked protest during the blockade.
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