TRIPURA: BJP’s Foul Game Jeopardises People’s Lives
THE connivance of the BJP’s central leaders with the IPFT’s indefinite blockade movement of the national highway and the only railway track of Tripura, on the so-called demand of a separate state since July 10, is no more a secret. This continuous blockade pushed all sections of the people of the state into uncalled for hardships.
Since July 10, IPFT, a tribal chauvinist party and an open political wing of the outlawed and secessionist outfit, NLFT, had launched a blockade movement of the national highway, which is practically the lifeline of the state and the only railway track that connects the state with the main land of the country. Heavy contingent of state police and Tripura State Rifles are on strict vigil so that the road blockers don’t resort to any violence.
The road blockade movement has caused serious problems to the lives of the people. Normal vehicular movement and rail operations remain standstill since July 10. Many students, patients, officials and businessmen, who have booked rail-tickets for going outside, had to cancel their tickets and purchase air tickets at manifold higher prices. The stock of essential commodities like food, oil, pulses etc is on the verge of exhaustion. Peasants including tribal farmers are in serious trouble as they cannot bring their produce to main markets in Agartala. Thousands of trucks with perishable goods have got stranded in north Tripura. Competitive examinations for recruitments to various departments had to be deferred. The prices of essential commodities are going up gradually, particularly in the rural and tribal inhabited areas, due to this blockade.
Initially, they started their movement with hardly three-four thousand of supporters mobilised from the entire state and with the days passing on, the mob has been thinning out. The leadership is frantically trying to carry on the movement through reinforcements from other parts of the state. But they failed to gather further mobilisation. As they find it difficult to carry on the movement any further, and as they are being criticized by different sections of the people including many tribal organisations, they started resorting to provocations, inviting violence from the general public. They are forcing the inhabitants of nearby hamlets to supply them food, vegetables, poultry and cattles for their fooding. The most provocative act by them was on July 12, the third day of their blockade. About 40 youth ‘heroically’ posing before the press people stood naked in the broad day light in front of a national flag at the place of road blockade. When this ugliest picture got viral in the social media and electronic media, all the political parties and many organisations came down upon this ugly action of the INPT which was against the high traditions and robust culture of the tribals of Tripura. IPFT leader N C Debbarma, however, took excuse saying that it was an act by some disgruntled youth.
Though all the political parties, except the BJP have unequivocally opposed the IPFT’s demand for separate state which is absurd, impractical and never to be conceded in respect of geo-social position of the tiny Tripura, and urged them to lift the blockade which is tantamount to strangulating the entire state, surprisingly, BJP, sensing the people’s sentiment against the blockade movement, made a statement opposing the separate state demand but inspired the blockaders saying that the tribals were compelled to resort to such movement because of long-drawn deprivation by the Left front government. On the other hand, BJP mooted an idea of “State Council” to pacify the aggrieved tribals.
Prior to the road and rail blockade movement, IPFT published a pamphlet urging its supporters to join in the blockade. The pamphlet reads, “…On the other hand, the central government has started giving positive response to the ‘Twipraland’ demand. During Delhi march in last March, there were three meetings with various ministries of the central government on March 2, 3 and 6th. And lastly on May 17, 2017, a ten-member delegation had discussions with state minister of prime minister’s office, Jitendra Singh and a memorandum was submitted to him. The delegation urged for convening a tripartite meeting to discuss on ‘Twipraland’ issue for solving the fundamental problems of the tribal people of Tripura...Indefinite and peaceful road blockade movement from July 10…central government is urged to take proactive steps towards creation of Twipraland”.
CPI(M) state secretary Bijan Dhar at a press meet on July 14, has again requested the IPFT leaders to call off the road blockade movement which has caused immense difficulties to the common people, particularly to those tribals living in the hills. He also severely condemned the indecent display of nudeness before the national flag, in the name of movement by a section of IPFT workers. This is quite contrary to our high culture and tradition, Bijan Dhar said and added that, gradually the connivance of the BJP with this conspiracy of harmful movement to set in a chaotic situation and thus embarrass the government is being exposed. Everybody knows that the BJP has not uttered a single word opposing the blockade movement, nor did they request the IPFT to call off this movement.
So far as the state council as mooted by the BJP is concerned, Bijan Dhar said, in our constitution, there is no provision of a state council. If they mean an autonomous state as defined in article 240(A) of the constitution, we oppose it vehemently.
In reply to a question regarding tribal development in the state, Bijan Dhar rubbished the IPFT’s claims that the TTAADC under the Sixth Schedule in Tripura has failed. We are in favour of more empowerment and autonomy of this council, if necessary, with amendments to the constitution. Notwithstanding the fact that the state had been reeling under continuous barbarous attacks by the imperialist-backed insurgent outfits for more than two decades, Bijan Dhar said, we don’t claim, we have done everything, but tribal development in Tripura is unparalleled, compared to any state in the country, and this is admitted by various ministries of the central government.
Apprehending difficulties in dragging on the road-blockade movement any further, and in search of creditable retreat, IPFT general secretary Meber Kumar Jamatia and Dhananjoy Debbarma went to Delhi to press the central government on their demands. But they did not get an appointment with the minister of state, home, till July 17. On July 16, state chief secretary and director general of police met a delegation of the IPFT leaders. The official authority on behalf of the government requested them to call off the movement, considering tremendous hardships caused to the people of the state due to road blockade. But the request fell on deaf ears.
In the meantime, chief minister Manik Sarkar informed about the impasse created by the IPFT movement to the union home minister Rajnath Singh and requested him to make central government’s position clear on the issue of IPFT’s demand for a separate state and, pursue them to withdraw from the road blockade.
Finally, it is the responsibility of the central government to remove the deadlock created by the road-blockade by the IPFT who resorted to such a destructive movement, evidently with the advice from the BJP leaders and central ministers.