BJP-ally IPFT for separate state for Tripura tribals

Agartala: The Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), the junior ally of ruling BJP, will hold demonstrations across the state in August to spearhead its demand for a separate state, a party leader said on Thursday.

“We will organise sit-in-demonstrations all over Tripura on August 23 in support of our demand for a separate state and withdrawal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016,” IPFT Vice President Ananta Debbarma told the media.

He said: “We would continue our agitation in the state to highlight the two important demands.”

The IPFT has been agitating since 2009 for a separate state to be carved out by upgrading the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), which has jurisdiction over two-thirds of the state’s 10,491 sq km area, home to over 12,16,000 people, mostly tribals.

Most political parties, including the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, Congress and even the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura, have rejected the IPFT demand, saying it was not practical to divide the small state.

The IPFT, a tribal-based party, forged alliance with the BJP before the February 18 Assembly polls and secured eight seats in the 60-member assembly.

IPFT President Narendra Chandra Debbarma and General Secretary Mevar Kumar Jamatia are cabinet ministers in the nine-member council of ministry headed by Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb.

Debbarma said that the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 would jeopardise tradition and customs besides demographic positions of the indigenous people not only in Tripura but also in the entire northeastern region comprising eight states.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2016, seeks to enable Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who have fled to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh without valid travel documents or those whose valid documents expired in recent years to acquire Indian citizenship through the process of naturalisation.

Many parties in the northeastern region are also opposing the Citizenship Bill, which is now under scrutiny of a Joint Parliamentary Committee.