Tripura indigenous party begins road, railways blockade for Tipraland statehood
Left Front government describes the blockade as undemocratic and says the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura should lift it.india Updated: Jul 10, 2017 13:50 IST
Road and rail traffic was affected in Tripura on Monday as the Indigeneous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) party leaders and supporters launched an indefinite blockade for Tipraland statehood.
The IPFT is demanding carving out Tipraland state from the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council at Khumulwung in West district, about 23 km from state capital Agartala.
“The blockade is a part of our long-standing statehood demand. Our movement will be peaceful,” said IPFT chief NC Debbarma.
The IPFT had carried out a 24-hour blockade of NH-8 and railways last year to press for Tipraland. The IPFT claims the indigenous community has seen little development under the Left Front government, which chief minister Manik Sarkar has been heading uninterrupted since 1998.
Police stepped up security at Khamting in Barmura Range of National Highway 8 (NH-8), where IPFT activists launched the blockade at 6am. The highway connects Tripura to the rest of the country through Assam.
Railway authorities decided to terminate the Sealdah- Agartala Kanchanjungha Express at Badarpur following the strike. Rail passengers faced even more trouble as several trains in Assam were disrupted due to a ‘rail roko’ agitation called by All Assam Koch Rajbanshi Students’ Union.
Vehicles stayed off NH-8 and no violence was reported from the blockade site. The Left Front government slammed the IPFT. CPM state secretary Bijan Dhar said the Tipraland demand was not democratic.
“The IPFT is losing importance in the hill areas and their Tipraland movement is a desperate attempt to hold on. We oppose the stir and urge them to withdraw it.”
Dhar added, “IPFT leaders met DoNER (Development of North Eastern Region) minister Jitendra Singh, who is also minister of state in Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), in May and then announced the blockade. It is clear that the BJP is backing them.”
The IPFT dismissed the CPM allegation that the BJP was supporting its statehood movement. The IPFT has indicated it will withdraw the blockade if the Centre agrees to call for either a bipartite or tripartite meeting to consider its statehood demand, among others.
Last month, the IPFT had extended support to the Gorkhaland movement and held rallies. Most parties in Tripura, including other indigenous groups, have opposed the blockade.
The dissident faction of IPFT led by Rajeswar Debbarma described the blockade as a “conspiracy to help the CPM”.