Tripura tribal party blocks road, rail in ADC as stir against CAB, says changes insufficient

Debraj Deb

The 12-hour blockade, which started at 6 am today, was held in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. (Source: Debraj Deb)

Road and rail blockade called by Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra’s (INPT) virtually paralysed movement in areas under the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) throughout the day Thursday. The 12-hour blockade, which started at 6 am today, was held in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

Speaking to reporters, INPT general secretary Jagadish Debbarma said, "This blockade is not movement of a single community. It is the movement of the genuine Indian citizens. Citizenship Amendment Bill is not in favour of true Indian citizens, instead it seeks to grant citizenship to immigrants who entered here till December 31, 2014. This Bill must not be passed in the Parliament of India."

Asked if the changes incorporated in the Bill by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday is acceptable to them, the INPT leader said the changes were merely cosmetic and would not make any real changes for tribals.

“We don’t want CAB to be implemented in Tripura and other NE Indian states. That’s it. Implementing it in general areas and exempting 6th Schedule areas would not make any real effect. It is insufficient and not acceptable to us," Jagadish said.

As per the changed Bill, areas under the Inner Line Permit (ILP) and 6th Schedule would be exempted from the revised citizenship parameters. Thus, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram would be completely exempted from ambit of the CAB since these states are fully covered by the ILP. Other NE states would be partially exempted in areas which are under the autonomous councils.

Nearly 3,000 supporters of the tribal party along with several indigenous organisations like Twipra Students Federation (TSF) joined the agitation today. They blockaded the National Highway at Sadhupara bridge at Champaknagar and sat on the railway tracks at Khamting in West Tripura.

Sadhupara Bridge is where supporters of Indigenous Peoples Font of Tripura (IPFT), now ruling ally with BJP in Tripura, held naked protest last year in support of a separate state.

This is the third major protest in Tripura ADC against Citizenship Amendment Bill in the last two months.

Though train services were suspended in most parts of Tripura, Tripurasundari Express and Kanchanjungha Express departed from Dharmanagar in North Tripura, 170 Km from here, where effects of the strike were not seen. The trains were scheduled to travel from Badharghat railway station in Agartala.

A duty officer from Tripura Police state headquarters said no untoward incident occurred anywhere during the blockade.