Echoes in the Dark

Sunil Kalai

Voices from the Earth, Memory and Future

The author is a Research Scholar at AJK MCRC JamiaMilliaIslamia, New Delhi, he is also an Assistant Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication, Tripura Central University and a Film Maker. 

The echoes of "Someone's food is the other man's poison,"which sings in my years and pierced into my heart over and over again, was expressed by our Director, Dr. D.J. John, Department of Mass Media, St. Anthony’s College, Shillong way back in 2002. it is often said that some of the sweetest memories in us are those which we can never bring them back. The meaning underlies about the taste and preferences of an individual that each of us chooses our own way of life which differs from one another. It is the role of our memory that brings the past into present and make our present reach our future. We are living in a world where we are politically displaced, religiously divided, economically categorized as rich or poor, morally judged as good or bad. The good and ugly part in life is the perspective that we are in; what is legally correct may not be morally good and politically incorrect. Yet the beauty in life fulfills the maturity of sharing our views and expressions which add up colors to our life. Yet, are we still confused with the very idea of uniformity versus unity in the country where there exist more than one thousand regional languages and countless indigenous religions and beliefs.  If everything is good, there must also be something bad about it and if so who do we blame?“To them politics means gaining glory and coming into power at the price by cheating the innocent” said ManojSahilDebbarma from a remote village of Jampuijala, Tripura.

"Should we not invest in hard work, sincerity and honesty? Neither though people dearly give chance to those who have potentials?" asked Kamal Jamatia (name changed) a past out engineer from the National Institute of Technology, Agartala, Tripura way back in 2012. Kamal is an engineering graduate since 2006, he belonged to a very poor tribal family who was raised up by his uncle yet he continues to remain jobless despite being Meritorious scholar till 2013. It is an indication that development and prosperity will not take place until the state wishes for the welfare of its citizens' despite of their hard work. Jampuijala is one of the biggest tribal areas in Tripura under Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council.There are more than thirty villages under its block but most of these villages are still lagging behind and are below the standard of living. Dwarkai Kalai Para is one of the villages, which is seven kilometers away from the Sub Divisional Magistrate's office. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months, while months turned into years and years into decades yet life has not witnessed much of the changes;Neither a single bus the villagers around could see nor a single dispensary is found nearby.

"I have died several times before I really die, my eldest son Aiswrang Kalai committed suicide few years back, my second son Bidhya Kalai died last year after falling sick for several months on bed. I am with another two sons but it kills me once more when my third son spent twenty-eight days in jail due to some political problems. I am now eighty above and I am old enough to see the cruelty and tyranny of our own people,” said, Late Aiswrangpha bursting with tears in his eyes in the year 2013 in his last days;he was one of the eldest members in the village. His eldest son suicide after returning from jailbeingaccused of having link with the insurgency and the second son died due to lack of treatment from sickness due to poverty. It is difficult to imagine in the pursue for happiness in such a sorry state of affairs. May be there is a negligence from the side of the administration and lack of initiative from the local leaders too, despite, Jampuijala being one of the biggest tribal areas. No proper schools, health center and most importantis, there are still no proper road connectivity, proper power supply and irrigational facilities for agriculture with other facilities; they remained neglected.

While I was doing master degree project in 2008 on the political and ethnic conflict in Tripura, I learned that "In the name of anti insurgency operation, many tribal were killed and the Left Front government is not doing justice to the indigenous people. Primary schools are converted into TSR camps and innocent people were killed in the process," echoed the voices from Debobrota Kalai Ex-Chief Executive Member, TTAADC way back in the year 2008.  Tripura is politically displaced, religiously divided, economically poor and educationally backward due to political compulsion by the party in power, people are debarred from sharing political power befitting to their prominence before independence, are now under apprehension that they would gradually lose their cultural identity. The Left Government in the past never tried to resolve to such fear and their increasing anti-tribal sentiments compelled the indigenous to agitate against the Government in general and outsiders in particular. "We are demanding separate state. IPFT believe that until and unless we get separate state based on ADC area, the Tripura people cannot survive as because for the last sixty years, we have been experiencing that we cannot enjoy political power, the political power is not in our hand it is enjoyed by the illegal immigrant." expressed Mr. Mewar Kumar Jamatia, leader of the IPFT as seen in one of the interviews faced by him before his party came into power.  Although the ADC areas comprise two third of the total state's area and the tribal formed one third of the states' total population, the TTAADC remained under developed. It had always been denied its due share of fund. Although the government of India announced several schemes for the development of the tribal, nothing much is being done.

The Indigenous Peoples' Front of Tripura (IPFT) under the leadership   of Narendra Chandra Debbarma came into existence on 25 February 2009 at Khumulwng with an objective of separate statehood demand based on TTAADC area.Today IPFT  is in power and Mr. Narendra Chandra Debbarma is one of the cabinet ministers of the BJP IPFT government in Tripura and least people of Tripura forget their objectives but most of the people remained clueless. Conflict is one of the costliest products of media while rhetorically racial consciousness tends to lead the belief, "We were stripped out of our own land. We were deprived of our gods and language. We were brought alcohol and venerable diseases. After all the plunder, now they want to appropriate our images and treat us like drunks, criminals, and drug addicts. Our faces and way of seeing have been taken away. Besides negating our images and usurping our archives of dreams they have detribalized our imagination through the mass media" is the common believe and consciousness by global indigenous community as Juan Franisco Salazar explained.

For manyyears, Tripura witnessed and suffered in the crossfire of vote bank politics and conflict. Its high time for us to take up different perspective on making Tripura a peaceful state. History has several accounts on how Tripura had been suffering due to politics, corruption, gun culture and conflicts. Changing the names of places and changing the color of the parties to rulethe people will never be able to change the thousand years’ long history of Tripura. In the the last fifteen to twenty years, we see is conflict, poverty and the new epidemic of drug abuse in the state. Will our leaders, administration and government remain quite on these matters? Let the youths be not taken into wrong direction. Who all are responsible for all theses? Our prayer to the ruling government and administration is, please resolve the matter.History also informs us that our Fas (rulers/kings) of Tipra kingdom were never greedy; they had always been very merciful to their subjects.  We could see the politicians speaking ills of our history, and should we blindly trust? Should there not be equal responsibilities and accountabilities by all citizens and media in particular? our determination will bring development and prosperity in the state making example of power, victory in preserving our thousand year's long history in the coming days. Let us alarm a reminder of the criminal misdeeds of the past that reminds us once again that remedy of the problems also primarily lies in the hands of our political rulers and the powerful mass media.


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