Causing serious hardship to people and leading to a crisis in essentials and food grains, a Tripura tribal party continued its blockade of the state’s main national highway and the lone railway track for the fifth day on Friday to push for a separate state.
The blockade continues as a delegation of the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), which has been blocking the National Highway-8, the life line of Tripura, and the state’s lone railway line, is in New Delhi to meet Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh and Home Ministry officials and the Union Home Minister.
“Since yesterday (Thursday) two of our leaders are waiting in Delhi to meet Jitendra Singh, Home Ministry officials and the Union Home Minister or Minister of State. Depending on the outcome of the meetings in Delhi, we will either withdraw the blockade or continue with it,” IPFT President Narendra Chandra Debbarma told IANS.
On the threat of some IPFT leaders to spread the stir to other parts of the state if talks with the Centre fail, the party chief remained non-committal.
IPFT General Secretary Mevar Kumar Jamatia and the party’s youth wing President Dhananjoy Tripura are in New Delhi to meet with central government leaders.
The indefinite blockade has caused a crisis in supply of essentials, food grains, fuel, basic goods and other items in the markets of Tripura.
A senior legal expert Purushottam Roy Barman, secretary of Tripura Human Rights Organisation, said that according to the National Highways Act blockading of National Highways is prohibited and the central government could take appropriate steps to clear any obstructions in the normal plying of vehicles.
The Left Front government in a press note once again urged the IPFT leaders to withdraw the blockade.
“The Left Front government has been opposing the demand for a separate state as the demand is extremely unrealistic. People of Tripura have no support for this demand,” the note said.
Debbarma, a tribal leader and former station director of All India Radio, Agartala, said: “Since 2009, we have been agitating for a separate state carved out by upgrading the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) areas. The Left Front government in the state and the previous UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government at the Centre did not give importance to our demand.”
The IPFT has sought the Governor’s intervention and a tri-partite meeting between them, the Centre and state government to resolve the matter.
The politically important TTAADC constitutes two-thirds of Tripura’s 10,491 sq km area, which has 12,16,465 (mostly tribals) of the state’s 37 lakh population residing in it.
TTAADC’s Chief Executive Member (CEM) and senior Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) tribal leader Radha Charan Debbarma said on Friday: “We have been demanding that the Centre give more powers and financial aid to the constitutional body.
“The central government has been considering giving more administrative and constitutional powers to all the tribal autonomous bodies in the northeastern region.
“Separate state demand would not help in development of the tribals and it would also upset the tribal and non-tribal ethnic unity and harmony,” Debbarma told the media.
The Left Front government led by Manik Sarkar, which is strongly opposed to both the demand and the stir, has taken unprecedented security measures in and around the Baramura hill ranges, through which the NH-8 and the lone railway line passes.
Most of the political parties, including the ruling CPI-M, Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have rejected IPFT’s demands saying it is not practical to divide the small state.