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Tribals demand separate state in Tripura
Tribals demand separate state in Tripura

Agartala, Aug 23 (TIWN) Stirred by the Central government’s decision to create a new state of Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh, a large number tribals under the banner of a little known tribal based party in Tripura Friday organised a massive rally to demand a separate state by upgrading the existing Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TAADC).

The rally, which went around the city and gathered near Raj Bhavan, was organised by Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), a tribal-based political party. The IPFT submitted a memorandum addressed to Governor Devanand Konwar.

Later a seven-member delegation led by IPFT general secretary Aghore Debbarma met the governor’s joint secretary Nabanita Roy and submitted the memorandum demanding a separate state upgrading TAADC.

The ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in Tripura, the main opposition Congress and its electoral ally Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura - also a tribal based party - strongly opposed the IPFT's separate statehood demand.

Debbarma later said they want the TAADC can be upgraded and a new separate state can be formed out of Tripura under the provisions of the Indian constitution.

Set up in 1985, the TAADC, which has been playing a key role for the socio-economic development of tribals, has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura’s geographical area of 10,491.69 sq km.

Tribals comprising 19 different tribes and groups, constitute a third of Tripura’s 3.7 million people.

The IPFT, which first raised the demand for a separate state several years ago, has so far failed to garner support even from within the indigenous tribal people.

“We are now carrying out awareness and mass campaign programme among the tribals across the state to press for the demand for a separate state. Leaders of such movements seeking a separate state from other parts of the country are also supporting our demand,” IPFT general secretary Debbarma said.

He accused the Left Front government of creating a “lame duck institution” having no real powers to ensure the development of backward indigenous people.

“The fundamental problems of the people have not been solved by the TAADC. Tribals continue to lose their lands. Even the state of Kokborok language of the indigenous tribal people is deplorable,” Debbarma said.

He said that the tribals were once a majority in Tripura and have been living in the state for more than 5,000 years, but their situation is now endangered.

CPI-M spokesman and senior party leader Gautam Das said : “A small state like Tripura cannot be divided further. The IPFT is merely trying to regain its lost relevance in state politics by raising such an impractical demand.”

Das, also the editor of CPI-M mouthpiece Daily Desher Katha, said that even the indigenous tribal people do not support IPFT’s demand.

While stating that the indigenous people don’t support IPFT’s demand, Das said in the past two Assembly elections, the Left Front has won all but one of the 20 seats reserved for the tribals. Further, in two successive TAADC elections in 2005 and 2010, the Left Front won all 28 seats.

Besides, it also won the majority of the 527 village committees within the council in polls held in 2006 and 2011, he said.

“The indigenous people know our policies and programmes and have given us their overwhelming support. IPFT is merely trying to confuse the people but it will not succeed. The indigenous people of Tripura know which party to trust and rely on for their welfare,” said Das.

Senior Congress leader Tapas Dey said that Tripura is one of the smallest states in India and cannot be divided further.

“The socio-economic condition of tribals can be upgraded even without forming a new state and if there is a political will of the rulers and tribals extends supports,” he added.

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