TRIPURAINFO

Dried Ink of Pen - The Demand of Hills in Tripura Today

Devid Debbarma

April 1, 2020, 14:27:27   

If history was kind to us (indigenous people of Tripura) then there would have been no necessity of penning down this article. However, history is full of irony. From monarchy to democracy, Tripura has a rich geo-political and cultural history. Two mass exoduses that took place in and around 1947 and 1971 grossly melted and restructured the equation and symmetry of the people of Tripura; primarily residing in hills, some in Gairings (Huts made by indigenous people on hilly area).

It is a factual truth that at the time of border infiltrations, indigenous people of Tripura gestured 'Faikaham' (welcome) comprehensively to all their immigrant brothers and sisters, gave food and shelter in the time of crisis without having the prophetic vision that this manoeuvre is going to change the days of political future of the state. Gradually the immigrants settled in the plain land and indigenous people as usual resided in hills.

Many surviving folks still remember the fact that how salt became a major issue between Bengali and Indigenous people here. 'Boinari' (A kind of trademansship) people used to come down from hills to the plain land in order to get salt in exchange of their rich hilly heritage. Hardly there were any collective voices on the part of the indigenous people till the formation of Gana Mukti Parishad, from where later on many indigenous political parties came out.

The first major movement that took place after the inclusion of Tripura in Dominion of India was the establishment of Dumbur Hydroelectric Project and the Dam, which made more than near about 25,000 indigenous people homeless. The issue of the right of Tribal people became an election agenda in the hands of Congress and later on CPI (M). The demand of autonomous ruling started brewing among the indigenous people. However these issues only remained an election hotcake only.

Infrastructure comes in second after existential basic needs like food, cloth and habitat. Following and granting some demands, which was growing day after day, Tripura Autonomous District Council was formed during 1980's. In spite of rules and regulations the desired amenities were reaching to the indigenous public like downward filtration manner. A small Tribal intellectual group ripped benefit from these demands and movements. The main purpose was diplomatically cornered.

Autonomous District Council was formed under the 7th schedule of the constitution in 1982 and later on in 1985 it was categorised under 6th Schedule of the Constitution of India. In terms of area it covers almost 68% area of the state. Total 19 different tribes stay here in ADC having their own culture and heritage. There is a demand so far to preserve those culture and cultural accompaniments. Here the role of true development comes in force.

Insurgency and terror phase and an unwanted riot in 1980's are in some way or the other was an outcome of the lack of development in an all round way. After the Look East Policy and Act East Policy came into existence, the real development started taking place in North East India. But these narratives of reality are yet to be implemented in Tripura and mostly in the hilly area. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the only prime minister to visit this state for maximum time and to address the gathering in most occasions in Kokborok.

Autonomous supply of budgetary amount is not the only solution here. It is also a pre-requisite to have a nationalistic policy framing in accordance to indigenous sentiment and aesthetics. The Left Front aligned ADC government so far has only focused on the exterior not the interior. Like school buildings have been made but no such importance was given on quality education in ADC areas. Hospital service is not that much satisfactory. Job placement and business opportunities are also facing the same halt.

It is an arrested fact that a large section of the indigenous intellectuals are longing for special provisions allotted by the constitution. For example the Article 371A applies in Nagaland, Article 371B deals with Assam, Article 371C Manipur, Article 371 G deals with Mizoram. In order to safeguard the long pending demands the youths are etching their voice on the invisible wall of the society.

Historical and political analysis of the state legislature would often confront us to the fact that if the hilly area is out then it will be difficult to run the state. Tribal sentiment is important here. Legislature and its well recorded elections are witness to the fact that time and again main stream political parties have tried to keep the indigenous sentiment on their side in order to win the general elections. However, only trenched illusions have been provided to the indigenous people. The present government hope will understand the sensitivity of tribal vote bank. There is a saying very popular that "Pahar jar, Sarkar tar" (Hill within, Government within).

Apart from stringent emotion based politics, it is also very true that even today also there are many places where adequate necessary services have not been provided. Indigenous folks are rich in terms of symbolic tales and legends but their life in many places are devoid of the boon of modern amenities. In the interior of Gandachera, Chamanu, Raimavelly many places lack in terms of communication systems and electricity.  

However things are changing gradually. Prior to 2016, no intellectual youths ever wanted to come to Tripura. Now they are coming to Tripura, to serve their own mother land. It is the high time to understand their call and psyche in order to comprehensively ameliorate the state to be stated as a model state in the country in the days coming.

Opportunity never knocks the door twice. One's iconoclasm is its own. But the greater interest can also not be castrated away. Leadership and policy need to be re-fabricated for national as well as indigenous tribes' own interest. Tripura from a Union Territory elevated to the status of a full-fledged statehood but only got one indigenous chief minister in the state. This is not about class and conflict rather an open minded strategic spontaneous flow that we need for the indigenous youths can be promoted so that they can enable themselves to mitigate the long pending demanding voices of hill not by fuelling it more but by toiling and perspiring more and more in an optimistic way and set an example like the earlier days when immigrant brothers and sisters were bosomed and befriended without any clause or condition and hold each other's hand for the sake of development, prosperity and peace.

   (Tripurainfo)

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