Two simultaneous strikes against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) crippled public movement for most parts of the day in Tripura Monday.
While one of the bandhs was called by Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT), the ruling BJP’s alliance partner, the other was by a group of different tribal political parties and social organisations.
The strikes started at 6am. By the evening, more than 1,000 people had been detained. Examinations in Maharaja Bir Bikram University, Tripura’s only state university, and Tripura Central University had to be postponed, while the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) suspended movements of six trains and partially suspended few others in Tripura.
The protesters claim granting permanent citizenship to people from foreign nations in Tripura would create an identity crisis for indigenous tribals.
While the IPFT had declared a 12-hour strike in ADC areas of the state, the Joint Movement Against Citizenship Amendment Bill (JMACAB), a collaborative platform of three indigenous political parties – Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), National Conference of Tripura (NCT) and Tipraland State Party (TSP) — along with some tribal social organisations like Borok Peoples Human Rights Organizaion (BPHRO), has announced an indefinite Tripura Bandh.
On Monday, IPFT protesters were active in Chandraipara area in Jirania sub-division, 30 mm from Agartala, while supporters of JMACAB were seen at Kalabagaan, Khululwng and other places.
Protesters set up blockades on National Highway 8 in different parts of the state, including Bishramganj, which connects Gomati and South Tripura districts with the rest of the state. Blockades were also seen on railway tracks at Baramura Range.
Speaking to reporters, IPFT spokesperson Mangal Debbarma said the CAB endangers tribal identity. “We have observed a 12-hour strike, demanding that CAB not be implemented in Tripura. We have earlier written to and met the Home Minister, Home Secretary and other key figures in the central government on the same issue. If the CAB is implemented, people from Bangladesh will throw us into a further identity crisis,” Mangal said.
JMACAB convener Anthony Debbarma said Tripura was already reeling under illegal immigration. “Repeated Commissions of the Government of India have found illegal immigration in Tripura. We don’t want indigenous people to suffer a worse fate here. We are completely against this legislation,” Anthony said.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, a duty officer from Tripura Police Headquarters in Agartala said 1,141 protesters had been detained till the latest reports came in. “We haven’t got full reports yet. So far, 1,141 people have been detained. More figures are coming in,” the officer said.
Meanwhile, opposition CPI (M) state secretary Goutam Das criticised CAB, but did not back the strike. “India is a secular democratic republic. This Bill is being reintroduced in the Parliament to target a particular community. We are vehemently against this legislation. However, people under BJP are already facing acute crisis of work and money. Strikes will further impoverish them,” he said.
When asked about its alliance partner protesting against CAB, BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya said: “It is their right to have different views on a legislation. But we don’t support strikes since they affect public life.”
Attendance of employees and students was relatively normal in non-ADC areas of Tripura. There were no major untoward incidents, barring a few skirmishes.
On Tuesday, the state will see another strike, this time by the Tripura Students Federation (TSF), a member of North East Students Association (NESO).
The TSF will hold a 11-hour strike in Tripura ADC as part of the ‘Northeast Shutdown’ against CAB. “This Bill has been tabled in the Parliament, but it will go to Rajya Sabha even if it is passed in the Lok Sabha. We shall continue to protest it,” TSF state secretary Sunil Debbarma told indianexpress.com.
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