A tribal-based party in Tripura has stepped up efforts to push its demands -- including for a separate state -- even as the ruling CPI-M has warned that a Manipur-like conspiracy would not be tolerated in the Left-ruled state where elections are due early next year.
The tribal-based party Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT), which has been agitating for the creation of a separate state, announced on Wednesday that it would block National Highway-8 and the rail tracks for an indefinite period from July 10.
NH-8 maintains the surface connection between the land-locked state and the rest of India through Assam.
"In support of our demand, we would block the National Highway and railway for indefinite period from July 10. A rally would also be organised in Agartala on the same issue on August 23," IPFT President Narendra Chandra Debbarma told reporters here.
He said: "We had a meeting with Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh on May 17 in New Delhi and discussed our demands. The Minister told us that the government would consider our demands."
Singh is also Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER).
The IPFT for the past few years has been agitating for the creation of a separate state, carved out by upgrading the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) area. The TTAADC was formed in 1987 under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to protect and safeguard the political, economic and cultural interests of the tribals.
The politically-important council constitutes two-thirds of Tripura's 10,491 sq.km. area and 1,216,465 (mostly tribals) of the state's total 37 lakh population reside in the areas.
The IPFT's demand for a separate state becomes a main issue in the Left-ruled Tripura before the assembly elections, due in February next year.
Most of the political parties, including the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), have rejected the demands saying that the issue would create ethnic trouble in the peaceful state.
CPI-M State Secretary Bijan Dhar said: "Months before the Manipur assembly elections, (the) BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) instigated the Naga group to block the state's vital National Highway to put an awkward position to the then Congress government aiming to dislodge the ruling party from power. Within days of assumption of office by a BJP government in Manipur, the several-months-long road blockade was withdrawn."
"BJP might be successful in Manipur, but it would not be winning its conspiracy in Tripura to dislodge the Left Front government," Dhar told reporters.
Dhar, also a CPI-M Central Committee member, said that in 1988, the then Congress government at the Centre, headed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi hatched a conspiracy in alliance with erstwhile terror outfit Tripura National Volunteers (TNV) and dislodged the then Left Front government headed by Chief Minister Nripen Chakraborty.
"Just ahead of the 1988 assembly elections, the TNV killed around 100 people and the Congress, led by then central minister Santosh Mohan Deb, organised massive rigging before forcibly dislodging the then Left Front government.
"But people of Tripura would not allow any kind of conspiracy against the incumbent Left Front government," the CPI-M leader warned.
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