The Forward Bloc has opposed the NRC exercise for Tripura and said the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system should not be extended to the state.
The party’s state secretary Shyamal Roy says the Bloc, a constituent of the Left Front, has made this clear in a letter to home minister Amit Shah.
“Tripura cannot be compared to Assam or other Northeastern states. Its kings conquered large parts of eastern Bengal and Bengali subjects were as much a part of the kingdom as indigenous tribes,” Roy told Northeast Now, quoting Census statistics for the whole of last century.
The Tripura royals got two-third of their revenue from Chakla-Roshanabad ( now in Bangladesh) and the kings encouraged Bengali farmers to move to Hill Tipperah (roughly the present area of the state) to spread the practice of settled agriculture to boost royal revenues, Roy said .
The kings also brought Bengali professionals to modernise administration and Bangla was the official language of the Tripura kingdom.
“Most Bengalis who came to Hill Tipperah were from areas of eastern Bengal where they paid taxes to the Tripura kings,” Roy said, quoting from historical texts.
“It was natural for these Bengali people to move to another part of the Tripura kingdom when their hearth and home fell in Pakistan,” said Roy.
“The Chakma tribespeople also moved to Tripura in large numbers when the princely region of Chittagong Hill Tracts was given away to Pakistan, where Muslims were less than 3 percent of the population,” he said.
Roy said that though the wise kings of Tripura introduced the Tribal Reserve system to protect the tribal lands, they did not adopt the “very divisive” ILP system introduced by the colonial British rulers to divide tribals and non-tribals.
“If the Centre now introduces the ILP in the state’s Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council, it will paralyse movement of goods and people throughout the state. A Bengali will have to take an ILP every time he goes 20 kms outside Agartala,” Roy said.
He said Tripura was the only state where citizenship certificates have been issued regularly since 1960s and these certificates were mandatory for jobs, education, business and purchase of property.
“The state already has a list of citizens, so we dont need NRC here, “said Roy.
He said the CPI (M) was divided on these issues “because a section of their leadership was trying to push for NRC and ILP while the party leadership was against it.”
The CPI (M) is the senior partner of the Left Front which has ruled Tripura between 1978 and 88 and then between 1993 and 2018.
Some tribal leaders of the party, under pressure from regional tribal parties, were pushing their leadership to demand NRC to weed out illegal migrants and ILP to curb movement of non- tribals into the tribal council area.
“There was an attempt to pass this off as a Left Front decision. Our forceful objection stopped that and now we want to nip in bud both NRC and ILP because it will bring untold miseries to thousands,” Roy said.
The BJP and its chief minister Biplab Kr Deb was also known to be circumspect about both the NRC and the ILP demands.