GUWAHATI: After Darjeeling, the demand for a separate state is now gathering momentum in Left-ruled Tripura. A former director of All India Radio is spearheading the movement for a separate tribal state. The N C Debbarma faction of Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) is demanding that the Sixth Schedule areas, which constitute 70 per cent of the state, surrounded on three sides by Bangladesh, be carved out for the tribal state.
IPFT workers held the state to ransom for two weeks by enforcing a road and railway blockade. The protests made the Manik Sarkar government accuse BJP of whipping up communal tension.
Tribals in Tripura, comprising 19 tribes, are demanding ‘Twipraland’. The Gorkhaland movement has given a fresh impetus to this movement. By covertly supporting it, BJP is trying to score brownie points ahead of next year’s Tripura elections.
“Our demand has been there since 2009 and it is being backed by 50 per cent tribals. We’ll intensify the movement through peaceful and democratic means. As the issue is about the creation of a state, the Central government has to address it. We’ll raise the demand in Parliament,” Debbarma said. “We are getting all-out support from our apex body, National Federation for New States, where Bimal Gurung’s Gorkha Janmukti Morcha or the GJM is a constituent.”
Earlier, militants in Tripura had waged an armed struggle demanding the sovereignty of tribals but the IPFT says its demand is a separate state within the Indian Union. Recently, an IPFT delegation had held a meeting with senior Central government officials in New Delhi.
While the Left Front government is opposed to the demand, BJP endorses a ‘State Council’ for the tribals. “There is no provision for a State Council in the Constitution of India. We have no idea what it is,” Debbarma added.