TRIPURAINFO

Kanchanpur in conflagration : political stupidity and callousness of vote-crazy leaders fuelling the fire

By Our Correspondent

Agartala, Updated: November 21, 2020, 11:09:24 AM   

Tripura's northern subdivision Kanchanpur , nestled in the serene obscurity of lush hills and flushing meadows , has always been an ethnically sensitive subdivision since post-merger days. The state's first organized insurgency led by late Ratnasen Reang had taken off here on a low scale before being put down by police within days of beginning way back in 1967. Since then the mixed populated subdivision has been an island of ethnic peace and harmony which remained undisturbed  even during the days of June-1980 riots. 

But the applecart was disrupted by the arrival of thirty five thousand Reang refugees on and from October 15 1997 following atrocities perpetrated allegedly by the majority Mizos in the southwestern part of the state. These refugees and specially their leaders soon realized that Tripura's democratic ambience and compassionate population would be the best guarantees for their future security, besides being happy hunting ground for their avaricious leaders. Despite best efforts made by the state and central government the refugees goaded by their leaders continued to dodge repatriation back home to Mizoram . Several delegations from Mizoram government and even visits of home ministers Raj Nath Singh and P.Chidambaram earlier failed to break the ice as the refugees and their avaricious leaders had scented blood. The previous left front government should have made it very clear that the refugees must go back home from overpopulated and ethnically sensitive Tripura but obsession with keeping up tribal vote bank worsened by hollow and sanctimonious posturing prevented the state government from taking a determined initiative and long two decades had passed by then. It was clear that trouble was brewing as a thuggish section among the refugees had forced the ouster of a large number of hapless non-tribal families from remote villages like Laxmipur, Mahadebpur and Ananda Bazar, creating tension and stray incidents of clashes and goonery on the part of refugees only further worsened the situation.
                                         
But a colossal act of political stupidity was committed by the BJP-led state government early last year when it agreed to have the refugees rehabilitated in already over-populated and ethnically sensitive Tripura in a tripartite meeting in Delhi. The state government’s laughably foolish consideration was that the move would endear it to local tribals and help it to win the ADC election, little realizing the massive trouble it would create. As soon as the state government's decision was announced there was angry reaction in Kanchanpur as the refugees had already made themselves unwelcome and unacceptable. The Bengalis feared further goonery and thuggery on the part of refugees and ouster from their home place, local tribals feared loss of 'Jhum' (shifting cultivation) land while ethnic Mizos also got jittery over the encroachment on their traditional land and cultural onslaught over and above the stark possibility that resettlement of refugees here would permanently alter the reservation formula followed in the state till now. Already people had born the brunt of unwelcome presence of refugees who had brought the labour market down by working at cheap rates and encroaching on land and other assets of local people. 

However, the stupidity and deviousness of the  BJP-led state government did not end there : facing unanticipated massive protests the government gave an assurance that the refugees would be resettled in all eight districts of the state in a spread-out manner . But when the official notification was issued it was found that all the refugees would be resettled in Kanchanpur which added fuel to the fire of discontent among local people. Naturally a massive agitation with support  from all sections of people started on last Monday. Despite having five days on hand the state government did never try to forestall any trouble by holding discussion with the agitators and what happened today is what had exactly been anticipated.

   (Tripurainfo)

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