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Tripura Backgrounder

The indigenous people of Tripura comprise of 19 tribes, including the Tripra, Reang, Jamatia, Kaipeng, Naotia, Koloi, Halam, Hrangkhal, Mog and Bangcher. Kok Borok is the lingua franca of the tribal people and other dialects spoken in Tripura are of Tibeto-Burmese group.

Tripura was a princely state that acceded to the Indian Union on October 15, 1949. It became a Union Territory on November 1, 1956 and a full-fledged State on January 21, 1972.

The genesis of insurgency in Tripura can be traced to the massive influx of Bengali refugees from East Pakistan following partition. The indigenous people, who accounted for 95 per cent of the population of Tripura in the 1931 census, had been reduced to just 31 per cent at the time of the 1991 census. This has led to serious discontent among the tribals, who have become a minority in their own land.

In addition to land, control of trade and business, government jobs are now in the hands of the immigrants. In order to protect their rights, some tribes formed a political front called Tripura Upajati Juba Samiti (TUJS) in June 1967. They demanded an autonomous district council under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, adoption of Kok Borok as official language and the restoration of tribal lands allotted to non-tribals

By 1970, some elements had come to believe that only armed action could secure their demands, and the Tripura Sena (Tripura Army) was created. Subsequently, in December 1978, the Tripura National Volunteers (TNV) was formed under the leadership of Bijoy Hrangkhal to fight for an independent tribal Tripura state. To assuage tribal feelings, the State government passed the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council Act in 1979. However, it was strongly opposed by a section of the Bengali population. To counter the pressures from the tribal extremists, they also launched a militant organisation called Amra Bangali (We Are Bengalis). Consequently, violent communal clashes broke out in several parts of the State in which about 1,800 people lost their lives and over 3,600 dwellings were burnt. In June 1980, the Army was inducted in the State, and the situation was brought under control.

The TNV, with its strong hold in the Jampui area bordering Mizoram, had close links with the Mizo National Front (MNF). But with the signing of the Mizo Accord in 1986 and the subsequent surrender of the MNF to the authorities, the TNV’s ability to continue the armed struggle was severely curbed. On August 12, 1988, the TNV signed a Memorandum of Settlement with the State government and its members laid down arms and came overground. The main point of the agreement was the restoration of alienated lands to the tribal people. However, there were persistent complaints that the agreement had not been implemented. New militant outfits had since come into being and there has been a resurgence of militancy in the State.






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