Showing their discontent with the Centre’s “reluctance” to take tribal leaders into confidence over implementation of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Tripura, a joint forum of three tribal political parties and social organisations Sunday announced series of agitations starting with a protest demonstration on January 7 at Agartala.
The parties, under the aegis of Joint Movement Against CAA (JMACAA), had met Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on December 12, where they sought his approval for exempting Tripura from the ambit of CAA. They claimed Tripura already bore the brunt of immigration since it became a part of the Indian Union in 1949 and further settlement of immigrants would relegate tribals in the state.
JMACAA convener Anthony Debbarma Sunday said that the home minister had assured them of a second round of discussion a week later and signing an agreement with the forum to ‘protect indigenous people of Tripura from CAA.
“We were introduced to Minister of State G Kishan Reddy for further correspondence. We have met Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb twice and MoS Reddy several times in last one month but we haven’t had any signal from the MHA. We can’t keep waiting for an eternity. So, we are announcing a protest demonstration at Agartala city on January 7. This will be a token protest and beginning of a series of agitations to follow,” Anthony told reporters.
Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT) supremo Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl, who is also a partner of the forum, said he feels ‘cheated’ and ‘undermined’ by the central government’s reluctance in discussing their demand of exempting Tripura from CAA cover.
“Our stand is clear and we informed the home minister over this issue. We feel if CAA is implemented in Tripura, law and order in the state might deteriorate and the existence of tribals would be endangered,” Hrangkhawl said, who headed the dreaded insurgent outfit Tripura National Volunteers (TNV) till its surrender and peace agreement with the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988.
Sunil Debbarma, secretary of Tripura Students Federation (TSF), a tribal student body which is a constituent partner of JMACAA, said the organisation would observe January 8 as ‘Protest Day’ this year. Five protesters sustained bullet injuries and many were injured as police opened ‘blank fire’ during an anti-CAB protest at Madhabbari in west Tripura in January 2019.
Meanwhile, Tripura’s ruling ally Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) announced indefinite sit-in-demonstration at Dukmali Bazaar in Khumulwng, headquarters of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) from January 6, demanding immediate introduction of NRC revision in Tripura. They also demanded to exempt the state from CAA and granting separate statehood for tribals of the state with areas under the Tripura ADC.
IPFT Assistant General Secretary Shuklacharan Noatia told reporters earlier on Saturday that his party has a separate set of ideals compared to BJP and would continue agitation, even if their partner in government disagrees. The tribal party has, however, maintained that their demand of ‘Tipraland’, or separate state, supersedes any other in priority including CAA and NRC, even as they are launching the indefinite stir.
In December last year, Tripura witnessed a series of strikes against the implementation of CAA here, which included violent clashes in parts of the state. JMACAA, earlier known as JMACAB, held three-day ‘Tripura Bandh’, till they were invited for discussion by Home Minister Shah.