Around 250 tribals belonging to various parties were arrested for “unlawful assembly” while protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), here on Tuesday.
Activists of the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), a junior partner in the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in the state, have started a sit-in on Monday at Khumulwng, headquarters of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC).
The Joint Movement Against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (JMACAB), a group of many tribal parties, led by the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), which called off the ant-CAA stir on December 11 after a meeting with Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, resumed the protest and held a protest here on Tuesday.
The JMACAB has been demanding that Tripura and other northeastern states be kept out of the CAA purview.
Animesh Debbarma, chief of the National Conference of Tripura (NCT), a part of the JMACAB, said 80 years ago the indigenous tribals were in majority. But they were now only one third of the state’s four million population, he said.
“If the Bangladeshi refugees are given citizenship as per the CAA, the tribal population will be reduced further and their traditional life, culture and economy — already under pressure — would be endangered,” Debbarma, a former legislator, said.
JMACAB convener Anthony Debbarma said after a meeting Union Home Minister Amit Shah on December 12, the group met the Chief Minister on December 18 and January 2, but nothing happened.
“Shah assured another meeting within December. But even after a month, we have not received any intimation from Delhi,” he said.
The JMACAB and various tribal parties, including the tribal front of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, the Tripura Rajya Upajati Ganamukti Parishad (TRUGP), the state’s oldest tribal-based party, have been demanding that the northeast be kept out of the CAA.
Tribal Welfare and Forest Minister and IPFT General Secretary Mevar Kumar Jamatia said that they would continue the sit-in till the demands were met.
The IPFT has also been demanding a separate state for tribals since 2009 by upgrading the TTAADC, and inclusion of “Kokborok”, the tribal language, into the 8th Schedule of the Constitution.
The TTAADC has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura’s 10,491 sq km area, home to over 12,16,000 people, mostly tribals.