Tribals in state ‘foreigners’, Bengalis original inhabitants, claims Tripura social group

Debraj Deb
Tripura news, Tripura Bengalis, Bengalis in Tripura, Tripura Bru refugees, Nagorik Suraksha Mancha Tripura, Indian Express news

Members of Nagorik Suraksha Mancha during a press briefing. (Express photo: Debraj Deb)

Terming Bengalis as 'original inhabitants' of Tripura and tribals as 'foreigners', the Nagorik Suraksha Mancha, a group of social activists based in North Tripura Friday stated that the government has to fulfill their 11-points demand, which includes repatriating Bru migrants to Mizoram, compensation for those affected by violence during anti-CAB protests and others.

The group also threatens to boycott this year's Tripura ADC elections and seek recourse from Supreme Court, if demands are not met. It also warned an agitation, in phases, starting with a sit-in demonstration at Laljuri village in North Tripura tomorrow.

The group, along with few other local bodies like Unnayan Mancha, Bangalee Oikya Mancha had earlier held strikes in different parts of the state in protest of purported violence during the anti-CAB strike in Tripura in earlier in December. It had also started an indefinite strike at Kanchanpur and adjoining villages in North Tripura demanding compensation for people affected by violence during the strike.

The agitation was called off only after assurance from the local administration to provide redressal within 25 days. With the deadline expiring Friday, the citizen forum said that they will not sit back and assert their rights through protests and legal petitions.

"The Bengalis were subjects of Tripura kings at Chakla Roshanabad (revenue circle), which is now in Bangladesh. So, we are not outsiders or foreigners. The official language in princely Tripura was Bengali. The people served high positions in the royal government. We believe the Bengali people were original inhabitants of this state and the tribals were foreigners who came from Mongolia, China and other parts of the world," Diptendu Nath, leader of Nagorik Suraksha Mancha said.

As per the Tripura Rajmala's royal chronicle of the state's Manikya monarchs and census reports, the princely state of Tripura was mainly inhabited by different tribal communities. A small section of non-tribals resided here, whose population was emboldened by settlements ordered by the kings and immigration from erstwhile East-Pakistan, following Tripura's merger with the Indian Union in 1949.

However, Nagorik Suraksha Mancha claims they are in possession of documents and records which prove that the Bengali people predate Tribals in Tripura. "We have discussed our legal options with counsels. We are considering to file an appeal in the High Court and even the Supreme Court, if necessary. We shall furnish all information there," the Mancha leaders said. They also said that they will publish a book with information soon.

The group alleges that troubles began for them after the arrival of Bru migrants from Mizoram and have demanded them to be sent back to their state, a step against Tripura's ongoing policy to resettle them in small habitations across the state. The group claims that the Bru migrants rendered many homeless by 'stealing' and ravaging their properties since they arrived.

"Over 6,000 people were thrown out of their homes by Bru migrants. We never had any problem with tribals in our locality before they came. We want them gone, right away," Anup Nath, another leader of the body, said.