TRIPURA: IPFT’s Blockade: A Deceptive Movement

Haripada Das

GIVING a sense of relief to the people of the state, the IPFT has been compelled to withdraw its indefinite blockade of national highway and rail track on July 21st morning. Thus this movement that started with deception on an absurd demand, also ended in a hoax. This end was possible because of the strong stand of the state government as well as tremendous pressure of the peace-loving democratic people of both the tribal and non-tribal communities.

Immediately after the declaring of the blockade movement and also just before it began, the state government had appealed the IPFT (N C Debbarma) leaders to call off this movement as it would create tremendous hardships to both the tribal and non-tribal people. As the state BJP and jungle friends were their patrons, the IPFT leaders had arrogantly ignored the state government’s request. On July 12, the black day in the history of Tripura, a good number of blockaders completely undressed themselves before the national flag and ‘heroically’ gave a pose before the cameras of the press people. This obscenity had generated a volley of condemnation throughout the state. Since then, the IPFT leaders were searching for a creditable retreat.  On July 13, two IPFT leaders, general secretary Meber Kumar Jamatia and Dhananjoy Tripura went to Delhi to negotiate with the central government. The state government assumed that they would withdraw after discussions with the central authorities. On July 16, civil and police authorities of the state called the IPFT leaders and again requested them to withdraw the blockade considering people’s suffering. They informed that two of their leaders are waiting to discuss on their demand with the central government authorities. But they could not meet any authority till then.  As the blockade was continuing because of pending discussion with the centre, chief minister Manik Sarkar telephoned the union home minister Rajnath Singh on the same day and apprised him of the entire situation in the state and requested him to meet the IPFT leaders waiting in Delhi so that the impasse could be broken as early as possible. Union home minister later informed the chief minister that he had entrusted Kiren Rijiju, state minister for home who would meet the IPFT leaders at 4.00 pm the next day ie, July 17. On July 16 afternoon, state BJP leaders sensing their entanglement in this sensitive issue of separate state coming out in public, pursued Kiren Rijiju not to meet the IPFT leaders scheduled the next day. Accordingly, the discussion did not take place. The union home minister asked the governor of the state to discuss with the IPFT leaders. On the 17th, the governor met the IPFT leaders and requested them to withdraw from the blockade. IPFT leaders did not pay any heed to his request also. By this time, the  CPI(M) state secretariat, Tripura Left front Committee, Merchant Associations, intellectuals, Tribal Retired Officers Association and various social and mass organisations appealed the IPFT to lift the blockade in the interest of ending people’s sufferings. All these appeals fell on a deaf ear.      

At the call of the Party state secretariat, CPI(M) launched a wide campaign throughout the state on July 16-17, condemning the blockade movement and exposing the BJP’s complicity with this anti-people movement and appealing for maintenance of ethnic harmony at any cost, against which a bigger conspiracy was afoot.

In order to hide their role in this blockade movement and to drag the blockade movement from Baramura hills to Agartala town for fomenting ethnic tension in the state, BJP staged a mockery of gherao of chief minister’s residence on July 18. They mobilised some of the supporters at different exit points to the chief minister’s official residence from 8.00 am in the morning to evening, demanding police action against the blockaders and to clear the national highway and the rail track, to ease out the people’s hardships. 

The Congress party on the other hand, considering themselves nowhere in this big political episode in the state, called for a ‘Tripura Bandh’ on July 19, accusing all – the state government, the BJP and the IPFT for creating a deadlock in the state. Except in Agartala, this bandh call was not responded in other parts of the state. 

In the early morning on July 21, the police imposed section144 in the area and directed the blockaders to vacate the place, lest the police would be bound to take harsh steps. Seeing that the police is preparing to jump into action, the IPFT leader N C Debbarma sought two hours time to declare the withdrawal which the administrative authorities granted to him. At 9.00 am, on July 21, the IPFT leaders lifted their 10-day long blockade of national highway and the rail track.     

Calling off the movement, IPFT leader N C Debbarma announced before their blockaders that the central government has conceded their demand of ‘separate Twipraland’ state and thus their movement was successful. Their supporters then raised slogans “long live Modi-ji”, “long live N C Debbarma” etc.

Party state secretary Bijan Dhar and Central Committee member Gautam Das at a press meet in the afternoon thanked the administrative and police authorities for skillfully dealing with the 11-day along impasse with highest restraint and endurance and for helping the ending of the deadlock without applying any force. He said, credit goes to the peace and democracy-loving people of Tripura who, in spite of facing uncalled for troubles and hardship in their conveyance and livelihood, foiled the bigger conspiracy to set in a tumultuous situation in the state like that of June 1980 riot.  

BJP was trying for a central intervention in the state which means nothing but the imposition of President’s Rule. This blockade movement was nothing but an attempt to create a ground – a complete breakdown of law and order and set a riotous situation that may be conducive to imposition of President’s Rule, Bijan Dhar said. BJP had patronised the IPFT and helped them morally, financially and materially for carrying on this blockade movement. It is heard that BJP had supplied costly tents, rich food stocks, mineral bottles etc from Agartala town to the blockaders for all these days, Bijan Dhar informed.

As assembly elections in the state are gradually approaching nearer, such machinations like that of 1988 shall be afoot, and it is the bounden duty of the democratic and peace-loving people of the state to be vigilant against any such evil designs, Bijan Dhar warned. 

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