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Tripura tribals' party starts agitation for separate State

By The Assam Tribune

Agartala, Nov 11 (IANS): A tribal political party in Tripura on Monday began a 72-hour hunger-strike demanding a separate state following the Central government decision to create Telangana.

"After the 72-hour hunger-strike, our leaders and members will go to New Delhi to launch an indefinite hunger strike there, starting December 10," Budhu Debbarma, vice president of the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura's (IPFT), told reporters.

Debbarma said the party wants the central government to create a separate state out of Tripura by upgrading the Tribal Autonomous District Council (TADC).

Several hundred tribal men and women on Monday took part in the hunger strike.

The IPFT organised a rally here on August 23 and submitted a memorandum to Governor Devanand Konwar in support of their demand.

The TADC, which has been playing a key role in the socio-economic development of tribals, has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura's geographical area of 10,491.69 sq km. It was set up in 1985.

Tribals constitute a third of Tripura's 3.7 million people.

The IPFT, which first raised the demand for a separate state many years ago, has so far failed to garner support even from within the indigenous people.

IPFT leaders have accused the Left Front government of creating the TADC -- a "lame-duck institution" -- having no real powers to ensure the development of the backward indigenous people.

"The fundamental problems of the people have not been solved. Tribals continue to lose their lands. Even the state of Kokborok language of the indigenous tribal people is miserable," Debbarma said.

He said the tribals were once a majority in Tripura and have been living in the state for more than 5,000 years, but their situation is now precarious.

The ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the main opposition Congress and its electoral ally Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura -- also a tribal-based party -- have strongly opposed the statehood demand.

"A small state like Tripura cannot be divided further. They are merely trying to regain relevance in the state politics by raising such an impractical demand," said CPI-M spokesman and senior party leader Gautam Das.

Congress leader Tapas Dey also said Tripura is one of the smallest states in India and cannot be divided further.

"The socio-economic condition of tribals can be upgraded without forming a new state and if there is a political will of the rulers and tribals extends supports," he added.

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Tripura tribals

Agartala, Nov 11 (IANS): A tribal political party in Tripura on Monday began a 72-hour hunger-strike demanding a separate state following the Central government decision to create Telangana.

"After the 72-hour hunger-strike, our leaders and members will go to New Delhi to launch an indefinite hunger strike there, starting December 10," Budhu Debbarma, vice president of the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura's (IPFT), told reporters.

Debbarma said the party wants the central government to create a separate state out of Tripura by upgrading the Tribal Autonomous District Council (TADC).

Several hundred tribal men and women on Monday took part in the hunger strike.

The IPFT organised a rally here on August 23 and submitted a memorandum to Governor Devanand Konwar in support of their demand.

The TADC, which has been playing a key role in the socio-economic development of tribals, has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura's geographical area of 10,491.69 sq km. It was set up in 1985.

Tribals constitute a third of Tripura's 3.7 million people.

The IPFT, which first raised the demand for a separate state many years ago, has so far failed to garner support even from within the indigenous people.

IPFT leaders have accused the Left Front government of creating the TADC -- a "lame-duck institution" -- having no real powers to ensure the development of the backward indigenous people.

"The fundamental problems of the people have not been solved. Tribals continue to lose their lands. Even the state of Kokborok language of the indigenous tribal people is miserable," Debbarma said.

He said the tribals were once a majority in Tripura and have been living in the state for more than 5,000 years, but their situation is now precarious.

The ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the main opposition Congress and its electoral ally Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura -- also a tribal-based party -- have strongly opposed the statehood demand.

"A small state like Tripura cannot be divided further. They are merely trying to regain relevance in the state politics by raising such an impractical demand," said CPI-M spokesman and senior party leader Gautam Das.

Congress leader Tapas Dey also said Tripura is one of the smallest states in India and cannot be divided further.

"The socio-economic condition of tribals can be upgraded without forming a new state and if there is a political will of the rulers and tribals extends supports," he added.

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