AGARTALA: A ten-member delegation of the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) recently met Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi and expressed hope that the party's pending demands would be fulfilled soon.
The party, an ally of the ruling BJP in the state, submitted a memorandum to Shah on July 15, seeking a "re- demarcation" of the boundary of Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) amid other demands.
TTADC is home to Tripura's indigenous tribals, who constitute a third of the state's population.
"Our meeting with the home minister was fruitful and cordial, and we are hopeful that our long-pending demands will soon be fulfilled by the central government.
"We had a detailed discussion on our demands, including re-demarcation of TTADC, and the Union home minister has instructed the home secretary to study the demands," IPFT general secretary and Tripura Forest Minister Mevar Kumar Jamatiya said.
Shah has "categorically said that he will call us again after 15 days" to discuss the issues mentioned in the memorandum, Jamatiya, who led to the delegation to New Delhi, told reporters on Wednesday.
IPFT assistant general secretary Mangal Debbarma, when contacted, said the boundary of TTADC, which constitutes two-thirds of Tripura territory, was last demarcated in 1994-95.
As part of the demarcation exercise, the tribal-dominated villages outside the council area were brought under its purview, while the non-tribal dominated villages within the TTAADC were excluded.
The Centre has also agreed to elevate the tribal council into a territorial council, Debbarma said.
"We are yet to know how the elevated tribal council would be empowered, what more rights and funds would it receive. This point will figure in our discussion with the home minister," he told PTI.
The decision to meet Shah was taken during a two-day state conference of the IPFT at Khumulwung, the headquarters of the tribal council, the party's general secretary said.
In 2018, just before the Tripura Assembly polls, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had assured an IPFT delegation that it would transform 10 tribal habitations in the state into "model villages", he said.
"More than a year has passed since then, but work on the project is yet to begin," Debbarma, who was also a part of the delegation, said.
The tribal party, in its memorandum, has sought distribution of free ration to BPL families in 23 rural development blocks in TTAADC during the lean agricultural period starting August, he said.
"We have also pressed for inclusion of tribal language Kokborok in the eighth schedule of the Constitution. This is one of one of our age-old demands and the Tripura government has already written to the MHA in this regard," he said.
The delegation also met Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region Jitendra Singh during its visit to the national capital, the IPFT leader said.
"We had no prior appointment with Singh, but he called us in his office as soon as he saw us, and we held a special discussion regarding our issues and demands," Debbarma added.