Vol. XLII No. 10 March 11, 2018

Khagendra Jamatia No More

Haripada Das

CPI(M) leader and Tripura minister Khagendra Jamatia died at the premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi on March 2. He was 63 and had been suffering from blood cancer.

Jamatia, the minister in charge of fishery, cooperative and fire service departments in the outgoing Left Front government, was a candidate from the Krishnapur constituency in the February 18 Assembly election. During most of the campaign period, Jamatia was under treatment at a hospital in Agartala. Soon after the polling was over, he was referred to the AIIMS, where he was diagnosed with acute blood cancer and died during treatment.

His body was flown back to Agartala on March 4. Floral tributes were paid to him at the CPI(M) State Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly. Thereafter, his mortal remains were carried to his native village where he was consigned to flame in the presence of thousands of people.

The CPI(M), the Gana Mukti Parishad and outgoing Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, in separate statements, condoled the demise of Jamatia. The statements said his demise was an irreparable loss to the party and mass movements in the state. His simple lifestyle and frank behaviour were attractive to all.

Jamatia began his political career with a tribal outfit. In 1980, a section of ultras of the erstwhile TUJS, a tribal chauvinist outfit, broke away from its parent organisation and formed an extremist group -- Tribal National Volunteers (TNV). Jamatia was a member of the organisation. But the mindless individual killings carried out by TNV extremists made a section of the TNV cadets to think otherwise. Very soon, TNV got divided and under the leadership of Binanda Jamatia, Hemanta Jamatia and Khagendra Jamatia, another extremist organisation was formed in the name ATPLO (All Tripura People’s Liberation Organisation). They realised that continuing hostility among tribal and non-tribal populations will only cripple the tribal community of the state economically, politically and socially rather than making any good to them. Being disillusioned about the wrong path of extremism, the entire ATPLO regiment including Khagendra Jamatia who was the ‘Home Minister’ of ATPLO surrendered to the Government of Tripura in 1983. The surrendered ATPLO leaders joined the Gana Mukti Parishad (GMP) and earnestly involved themselves to restore peace and ethnic amity in the state which was under turmoil following the June-1980 ethnic strife. They played a vigorous role in economic rehabilitation of riot-affected families and persuaded many families of the youths who joined TNV for making a clarion call to them to return home leaving the wrong path of extremism. That yielded good result.

1984, all the three ATPLO leaders including Khagendra Jamatia joined the CPI(M). In 1988, he was inducted into the CPI(M) State Committee where he continued till his death.

Among the three surrendered ATPLO leaders, Binanda Jamatia was killed by TNV rebels in 1984 and Hemanta Jamatia is now a CPI(M) State Committee member and renowned singer and song composer.  

In 1985, Khagendra Jamatia was nominated as a member of TTAADC. Since 1988, Khagendra Jamatia was a Member of the Tripura Legislative Assembly representing Krishnapur (ST) assembly constituency. He represented this constituency for six consecutive terms. He lost from the constituency in the last polls, results of which were announced a day after his demise. In 2003, he was inducted into the state cabinet. (END)