Protests against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act entered the eighth day in Tripura with the Opposition slamming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for "polarising the state" and causing a "crisis in the tribal belt".
Tripura, along with other Northeastern states in the country, has been on the boil over the Citizenship Amendment Act, which enables non-Muslim refugees (Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians) from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who arrived in the country before December 31, 2014, to obtain Indian citizenship.
The former Speaker of Tripura, Pabitra Kar of the CPM, said, "Under the current BJP regime, there is a crisis in the tribal belt. The BJP is polarising the state. We had placed a demand to the CM (Biplab Deb) to call for an all-party meeting but he has not responded yet. We urge all Opposition parties to come together to demand the withdrawal of the act in a bid to restore peace and tranquillity of the state."
He added that on December 19, all five Left parties in Tripura will hold a protest against the Act in Agartala.
Asked whether an Inner Liner Permit (ILP) will solve the migration issue in the state, he said, "Although some tribal groups and parties have asked for an ILP, it won't solve the problem of Tripura. Tribal pockets are spread across the eight districts of the state. We want tribal rights to be upheld by the Constitution."
Tripura, which is home to 31 per cent tribals, has been up in arms against the Act given that the state shares one of the longest borders with Bangladesh and has been subjected to one of the highest influxes of Bengali-speaking undocumented refugees post-partition.
Congress leader Subal Bhowmik said, "We are vehemently opposing the Act. We are against both the NRC and CAA. There has been a constant peaceful protest and we will continue with it."
Criticising Tripura royal scion and former state Congress chief Pradyot Deb Barman for meeting Amit Shah, he added, "This betrays his double standards. What is the point of going to Shah and speaking once the Act is passed? Deb Barman's visit has sent a wrong message to the people in Tripura. He has a nexus with the BJP. This is all drama."
Barman had accused the Congress of not speaking up for the indigenous people of the state. He told The New Indian Express, "Today when the entire northeast is on fire, where is the Congress party in the state? My exact allegations were that the Congress and the BJP are speaking in the same voice and I stand correct today."
The seven states in the Northeast have been protesting against the migrant influx for at least two years. Earlier, the protests turned violent and SMS and Internet services were suspended for 72 hours and Section 144 was imposed in many parts.