Agartala, July 17: The indefinite rail and road blockade on National Highway 44 called by the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) today crossed the 8th day.
After a dialogue for resolution of the blockade went inconclusive yesterday, the tribal party’s leadership now eyes at a meeting with Minister of State (MoS) for MHA Kiren Rijiju scheduled tomorrow morning.
Speaking to The Northeast Today (TNT), IPFT president NC Debbarma today said that the dialogue with the state government didn’t yield any results since officials weren’t ready to think responsibly for the thousands of people sitting in blockade.
“We might be agitating but we were completely democratic in our movement. The government has a responsibility to see that these people don’t come to harm”, NC said. He added that over 50 agitators were taken ill since the inception of the blockade; many of them were hospitalized at the Khumulwng Hospital.
“Most of these patients are suffering from diseases like diarrhea, fever, malaria and the like – diseases that could have been easily tackled with the minimum amount of medicine supply. But the government chose to turn a deaf ear on us”, the veteran tribal leader told TNT.
When asked about the current availability of medicine and other emergency supplies, NC Debbarma said that there is next to zero supplies at hand to tackle any emergency situation.
“Our supporters have braved the sun and rain over the past 8 days to continue the blockade that we have started. They haven’t done anything wrong that goes against the law of the land and they deserve to be treated better”, a visibly dissatisfied NC said.
He said that a delegation of the party led by General Secretary Mevar Kumar Jamatia has been stationed at New Delhi to meet union minister for the last 3-4 days.
“Our leaders haven’t met any union minister till date. But we have a meeting scheduled with MoS for MHA Kiren RIjiju tomorrow morning”, he said.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar yesterday said in a media briefing that he had requested Home Minister Rajnath Singh to initiate dialogue with the agitating leaders.
In a press statement today, the state government added that Chief Minister Manik Sarkar was informed by Union Home Minister Singh today that MoS for MHA Kiren Rijiju would hold the dialogue with IPFT leaders on Tuesday morning.
Chief Secretary Sanjeev Ranjan, Director General of Police (DGP) Akhil Kumar Shukla, SP (West) KV Sreejesh and other officials yesterday hosted a dialogue on the part of the state government with IPFT leaders.
The IPFT team that attended the meeting comprised of supremo NC Debbarma, vice president Ananta Debbarma, vice president Brajalal Debbarma, vice president Hemanta Kumar Jamatia, joint-secretary Mangal Debbarma and others.
Though Minister for Civil Supplies Bhanulal Saha recently claimed that the state has got 80 days of food stock, the blockade going on for seven days now has led to serious shortage of essential items, including food grains.
“We have told the officials that we would not withdraw the blockade until the central government gave us a concrete assurance about our separate state demand,” Debbarma later told reporters.
Meanwhile, a concerned citizen Dhiraj Debbarman expressed grief and disappointment over the step-motherly treatment meted out by the state government to the plight of the indigenous community.
“For the past one week, the protesters have been deprived of proper medical assistant. Though food was surplus, supply of medicine on the hand could not be met. People are falling ill due to dehydration and lack of proper sleep,” Debbarman said.
He however, said that there are some people from Agartala who have lend a helping hand through supply of food and medicines to the agitators.
“We hope that the central government will take this issue seriously and start thinking about the plight of the indigenous,” said Debbarman.
The indefinite blockade, since July 10, has caused a crisis in supply of essentials, food grains, fuel, basic goods and other items in the markets of the north-eastern state.
Though other tribal parties like the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT), NCT and others have opposed the demand for a separate state for indigenous groups of Tripura, IPFT has been campaigning on the agenda since 2009.
The Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) is considered political important in the state with a geographical area of 10,491 sq. Km and a population of 12.16 lakhs out of the total population of 37 lakhs.