The Tribal Autonomy Movement in Tripura

Upsurge of ethno-centric movement of the tribes of Tripura being marginalised due to the influxer or refugees, the birth of Tribal  Autonomus District Council

7596 views

Bijan Mohanta 

Upsurge of ethno-centric movement of the tribes of Tripura being marginalised due to the influxer or refugees, the birth of Tribal  Autonomus District Council.

before Independence of India, there was a movement for education of the tribal people in Tripura  under the leadership of the Tripura Janasiksha Samity.

But the movement was shortlived. After Independence, the tribal people under a different politico-administrative perspective unleashed a militant struggle against all oppressions and repressions under the banner of the Tripura Rajya Mukti Parishad.

The Mukti Parishad carried the legacy of the Tripura Janasiksha Samity and, therefore, with the armed resistance struggle, it also addressed itself to the socio-cultural issues of the tribals.

But the situation changed further in Tripura after the Partition of the Country. With the influxes of refugees, the tribal people were confronted with a new challenge.

They then started to organise movement for autonomy in Tripura. 

Quest for Autonomy 

After Independence of India, the tribal people in Tripura were confronted with a new challenge—a challenge of safeguarding their tribal identity in the State.

A large scale influx of migrants from East Pakistan after the Partition of the Country resulted in a demographic change in Tripura. The percentage of tribal population came down from 50.9% in 1941 to 36.85% in 1951. In the situation there developed 

among the tribals a lurking fear of being a minority community. 

After coming into contact with the migrants who were possessed of an advanced mode of production, the common tribal people began to lose their cultivable land in the plain areas. As a result, they were gradually displaced from their original position. The official records of the government bore testimony of how widespread and illegal the transfer of lands were. The legal protection against the alienation of tribal lands was not adequately strong.

Section 187 of the Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act, 1960 and its later amendment in 1974 also could not stop the land alienation. 

The tribal people of Tripura dwelled in abysmal economic backwardness and abject poverty. They had a high rate of illiteracy. The mode of production of the tribal commoners was primitive in nature and their way of life also was in consonance with it. Naturally they failed to cope with the challenges of a competative society which emerged in Tripura after Independence. 

Crisis of identity of an ethnic community normally develops when it is relatively backward and outnumbered by an advanced community. This was the situation of the tribals in Tripura. In the changed socio-economic scenario, the tribal people began to suffer maladjustment. They began to think that they

were socially cornered, politically outnumbered and economically deprived. Their language, culture and way of life were at stake and endangered too was their entity, It was the feeling that prompted the tribals to quest for tribal autonomy in Tripura. 

 The tribal autonomy movement rcvolvcd about thrcc principal demands—land, language, and selfgovernment-protection of tribal lands, recognition of Kok-Borak as the second state language and installation of a Tribal Autonomous Council in Tripura. These were the three points of thrust of the tribal autonomy movement. 

 The tribal movement for autonomy in Tripura had two distinct ideological approaches. One section of the tribals preferred to go it alone. It was an approach to tribalism. On the other hand, there was another section of the tribals who did not see eye to eye with them.

They liked to fight for the tribal cause and at the same time, to rally round them the democratic and progressive section of the non-tribal people also.

This approach had succeeded in mobilising the tribals and the non-tribals in a large number in the struggle for realising the just and legitimate demands of the tribals. Tim approach to tribalism had little effect and ultimately gave way to the cult of violence through the tribal extremist group. 

Ethno-centric Tribal Organisation in Tripura 

With the rise of non-tribal population in Tripura, some ethnocentric tribal organisations came into being in 1947 with a view to protecting the tribal interest in the territory.

After the death of Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya, his step-brother Dutjay Kishore Dev Varman formed ‘Bir Bikram Tripur Sangha’.

Its main aim, besides other mottoes of social reforms, was to resist the influx of refugees into Tripura. Iworked heart and soul to safeguard the tenancy right of the permanent inhabitants of Tripura.

As a result, the government of Tripura notified in March 1949 that ‘prayer for land settlement of those who are no subjects of Tripura State will not be entertained without written permission of the Dewan of the

State. ‘2 

The Secretary of the ‘Bir Bikram Tripura Sangha

was Bidur Kartha and its office was at his residence at Agartala. The Sangha had its militant wing styled in the local dialect as ‘Seng Krak’ or ‘Sing Krak’ which symbolised the cult of ‘clenched fist’. It called for a showdown of the Tribals against the Bengaleerefugees. Kunjeswar Deb Barma, son of Jageswar Deb Barma was the leader of the wing which was known for its bangal kheda movement. In 1949, when A. B. Chatterjee assumed the office of the Chief Commissioner of Tripura, the organisation was declared outlawed for its violent activities. 

After the Seng-Krak was banned, the ‘Paharia Union’ came into being in July 1951 under the leadership of Chandra Sadhu Rupini, a prominent leader of the Halam Community. The organisation drew mostly the Halams within its fold. Another organisation, namely ‘Adivasi Samity’, was formed in 1952 under the leadership of Sunitijivan Chakma and Madhab Master. It was organised in the countryside and took the initiative to consolidate the Chakmas. There was yet another political organisation known as ‘Adivasi Sangha’ which was formed in the month of November 1953 at Agartala. A section of the Tripuris, Jamatias and Halamsjoined this organisation. Lalit Mohan Deb Barma was its President and its office was at Agartala. 

The aforesaid organisations stood more or less for the same purpose of organising the people of their respective communities. But there was a lack of cooperation and coordination among these organisations. So in the interest of a stronger tribal organisation, these were combined together so as to form a bigger organisation. It was named ‘Adivasi Sangsad’. The Jamatias supported this organisation. It undertook some movement programme for inclusion of the tribals in the Administration of the State at an increased rate and in doing so, it took an anti-Bengalee and anti-refugee stand. The organisation demanded for (a) a Tribal Regional Council in Tripura; (b) declaring Triupra as an Autonomous District; (c) merger of Tripura with Assam; (d) filling up of Gazetted posts by the non- 

Bengalees only.On behalf of the ‘Adivasi Sangsad’,

Lalit Mohan Deb Barma contested a Lok Sabha seat in Tripura during the second General Election but conceded a defeat due to lack of mass tribal support. 

In 1955, when the State Reorganisation Commission recommended for merger of Tripura with Assam, a group of tribals of Tripura supported the recommendation with a motive behind to put an end to ‘Bengalee-hegemony’ in Tripura. Further, they were toying with an idea of a separate Tribal State. This group of the tribals under the leadership of Sneha Kumar Chakma established a branch of the ‘Tribal Union’ at Agartala in 1955. They maintained a close rapport with other tribal leaders of northeast India. In 1956 the ‘Tribal Union’ was renamed, ‘Eastern India Tribal Union’. This organisation raised slogan for a Tribal State’ comprising NEFA, Manipur, Khasi and Jaintia Hills, Garo Hills, Mizo Hills, Naga Hills, Tripura and other tribal areas of Assam. 

In Tripura the organisation raised slogans ‘directing the Bengalee-refugees to go to Delhi’ and for ‘sealing the border, driving out the Bangalees and making Tripura a Tribal State. ‘4 But these slogans did not draw a wide support from the tribal people of Tripura. As a candidate of the Eastern India Tribal Union, 

Sneha Kumar Chakma contested elections to the Lok Sabha in 1957 and 1962 but failed to win on both the occasions. He got only 7642 votes in 1957 and 3687 in 1962 elections. 

The Seng-Krak appeared for the second time in 1967. During this time, it confined its activities mainly in Dasda-Kanchanpur areas of North Tripura and drew the support mainly from a section of the Reangs and the Chakmas. It launched movement with the blessing of the Mizo National Front. In November 1967 wallposters appeared in Kanchanpur area in the name of Seng-Krak directing the Bengalee-refugees to vacate Tripura.5 

The ethno-centric tribal organisations in Tripura expressed strong indignation and a sense of no-confidence against the State Administration but they achieved actually nothing of their desired objectives except formenting communal passions. 

Birth of Tripura Upajati Juba Samity 

In 1967 a younger section of the Tribals in Tripura organised themself under the banner of ‘Tripura  Upajati Juba Samity’ (TUJS). It ostensively put forward the following four demands as its raison d’etre. These demands were :

  • Restoration of tribal lands transferred to the nontribals since 1960.
  • Formation ofa Tribal Autonomus District Council in Tripura. 
  • Reservation of government jobs for the tribals. 
  • Recognition ofKok-Borak as an official language and medium of instruction and adoption of Roman script for Kok-Borak. 

Since 1967 the TUJS had been carrying on movements in the tribal cause. On July 11, 1968 some 324 tribals, males and females, observed a continous hunger strike. On March 11, 1970 the TUJS again observed a 24 hour hunger strike in different parts of Tripura. Besides, many tribal rallies were organised by the TUJS and representations were submitted on different occasions to the Government of India demanding fulfilment of the tribal demands. 

Gana Mukti Parishad and the Autonomy Movement 

With a different ideological approach, the Tripura Rajya Mukti Parishad• launched autonomy movement long before the TUJS came into being. The GMP always puts emphasis on a struggle of the tribals in cooperation with the democratic-minded eople of the non-tribal communities. The main aims and objectives of the GMP as enshrined in its onstitution framed in 1949 are : 

  1. To organise the tribal people of Tripura and make them aware of the special rights and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution of India and launch a sustained struggle for the realisation of these rights. 
  2. To work for the all round development of agriculture, industry, education and culture of the tribal people. 
  3. To protect the rights of all tribal people and to fight for the growth and expansion of democracy and lasting peace in Tripura by establishing a good and brotherly relationship with other communities and progressive section of the non-tribal people. 

After Independence and merger of Tripura with the Indian Union, the Gana Mukti Parishad launched movement with its demands. At the beginning the protection of tribal interests on lands was the main demand. Thereafter, two more issues, i.e., recognition of the tribal language ‘Kok Borak’, and granting of tribal autonomy were included into its Charter of demands. The TUJS also mobilised a section of the tribal people and started movement on the same issues from 1967. 


* Formed in 1948, it was renamed ‘Tripura Rajya Gana Mukti Parishad’ in 1951, and after the split in the CPI, in 1964, the CPI(M)-led organisation was named, ‘Tripura Rajya Upajati Gana Mukti Parishad’ but in common parlance it has been coming to be called GMP. 

The demand for protection of tribal interests on lands was raised by the Gana Mukti Parishad when the ‘Tribal Reserve Area’ constituted by the Maharaja of Tripura was partially dereserved for rehabilitation of the East-Bengal refugees.

In the National Conference of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, convened by the Prime Minister of India, Nehru, in 1952 to discuss the problems of these communities, Dasarath Deb, M. P. suggested : ‘Some area or areas of Tripura shall have to be set aside for the tribals alone and no other persons belonging to the non-tribal community should be allowed to settle there.

In fact, such area does prevail in Tripura since the Maharajas’ regime. 8 

Subsequently, in a Memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister of India on 10 September, 1955, the 

Tripura Rajya Gana Mukti Parishad stated : ‘the

scramble for land in Tripura has reached such a point that it is no longer possible for the tribal jhumias to find new lands for jhummings, nor are they in a position to retain their old jhumming lands traditionally used for cultivation. So government khas lands around tribal habitations should be declared as reserved areas for rehabilitation of the tribal communities.

‘9 On 19 March 1956 Dasarath Deb, M. P., raised the demand in the Lok Sabha that the Government khas lands in the tribal compact areas should be kept reserved for the tribals.

Moreover, the Mukti Parishad demanded implementation of the ‘Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act, 1960’ prohibiting any transfer of tribal land to the non-tribals, formation of an elected and powerful Tribal Welfare Board, constitution of an expert language committee for the development of tribal language ‘Kok-Borak’ Il The Mukti Parishad also vehemently criticised the government for not taking any step for social, cultural and economic development of the tribal communities.

It called upon the tribal people in general to launch a vigorous movement to change this sorry state of affairs and appealed to the democratic section of the people of non-tribal community in particular to extend their support and solidarity towards the demands of the tribal people. 

It may be noted that the ‘Santi Sena Bahini’ of Gana Mukti Parishad which was reported to have had 9829 members out of whom 2658 being women at the time of its third Conference held from 18 to 20 March 1961 at Khowai, stood against any communal frenzy.

By a resolution adopted in the third Conference, it condemned the attitude of the ‘Eastern India Tribal Union, Tripura Branch’ for its demand for driving out the Bengalees from Tripura and making Tripura a Tribal State’.

The Resolution read ‘This Conference thinks that emancipation of the backward tribal people cannot take place through a malicious sectarian way;

way to emancipation lies in the change of the present regime based on exploitation and, therefore, all exploited people—tribals and non-tribals, are being called upon to build a united movement against the existing system. ’13

The Tripura Rajya Gana Mukti Parishad submitted a representation to the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes Commission (1960-61) under the Chairmanship of U. N. Dhebar, wherein it was demanded once again to keep an area reserved for the tribals alone. 

  1. M. Patnaik, the then Chief Commissioner of Tripura, in his note submitted to the Dhebar Commission, suggested that a specified area should be declared as reserved for the tribals under the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of India.

Considering the gravity of the situation, the Dhebar Commission recommended, inter alia, that Tribal Development Blocks might be set up as an experimental measure in the tribal compact areas, and if this measure failed to bring about any material improvement among the tribal people, measure under Schedule-V might be tried.14 

Thereafter, the Administrative Reforms Commission set up under the Chairmanship ofK. Hanumanthaiya, examined this issue and suggested that some compact tribal areas in Tripura might be specified and Tribal Councils set up there along with delegation of welldefined administrative powers. 15 

Thus, the question of tribal autonomy in Tripura got priority in the recommendations ofthe Commissions appointed by the Central Government. But neither the Central Government nor the State Government came forward to materialise this recommendation. 

On the contrary, the State Government abrogated the already existing Tribal Reserve Area, constituted by the Maharaja of Tripura, by promulgating an Ordinance on 28 February 1974. Such action of the Tripura Government greatly injured the tribal sentiment. The tribal autonomy movement thereafter assumed a new dimension. 

All-Party Tribal Convention 

In order to register a strong note of protest against the Ordinace of the 28th of February 1974 and to intensify movement, an all-Party Tribal Convention was convened at Agartala on 7 April 1974. The Convention was attended by Tripura Rajya Upajati 

Gana Mukti Parishad (CPI(M)-lcd), Tripura Rajya Mukti Parishad (CPI-led), TUJS, Tribal Students’ Federation, Tribal Youth Federation, and Tripura Upajati Kannachari Samity The Convention adopted a ‘Four-Point Charter of Demands’ and also an Action Programme. The demands were : 

  1. Revocation of the Ordinance and preservation of the tribal compact area and introduction of an Autonomous District Council therein.
  2. Recognition of ‘Kak-Borak’ as the second State language. 
  3. Introduction of ‘Kok-Borak’ as the medium of instruction at the primary stage. 

From the Covention a ‘Join Action Committee’ was formed to steer the movement. It included two representatives from each of the organisations which attended the All-Party Tribal Convention. 

A programme of mass demonstrations before the Block Development Offices in the State was held on 30 April 1974 under the banner of Joint Action Committe. 16 Mass rallies and mettings were held which were peopled by the tribals and non-tribals. A 12-hour ‘Tripura bandh’ was observed on 3 May 1974. The organisers of the bandh congratulated the people on their having supported the Tripura bandh.’ Four left parties-CPI(M), CPI, Forward Bloc and RSP, issued statements separately congratulating the people on their total support towards the bandh. But the Pradesh Congress Convener, Mansur Ali termed the bandh as a ‘politically motivated and anti-people one. 17 

However, as a result of the movement, the government took steps towards carving out a ‘Tribal Schedule Area’ in February 1975. But it did not satisfy the tribal people and hence movement towards its ultimate goal continued. 

Rift in the All-Party Action Committee 

The united tribal movement did not continue for long. A rift occurred on the question of participation

of the non-tribals in the movement on tribals’ demands. The TUJS was not agreeable to organising any movement on tribal cause with the support and cooperation of the non-tribals.18 It wanted a movement on tribal cause by the tribals alone. 

But this line of thinking was not acceptable to others especially the Tripura Rajya Upajati Gana Mukti Parishad with Marxist idelogical moorings. As a result, the ‘Joint Action Committee’ became defunct after its meeting held on 5 June 1974. From that day onwards the tribal movement for autonomy continued on two different ideological lines. 

The Tripura Rajya Upajati Gana Mukti Parishad and the Upajati Yaba Federation carried on movements on Marxist line. On 10 June 1974 the left organisations held mass demonstrations before the offices of Sub-Divisional Officers and organised a big mass rally at Agaratala which was addressed by Biren Datta and Abhiram Deb Barma. 19 

On the other hand, the TUJS decided to go it alone. In its bid for protecting tribal culture and identity and fighting for tribal autonomy, it had gone about preaching that tribal problems were the problems of the tribals alone and needed to be solved by the strength of the tribals only. Declaring 1974 a year of struggle, it launched a movement programme. Meetings and processions were organised and finally one tribal rally was organised at Agartala town on 10 July 1974. It was organised by the break-away fraction of the All-Party Action Committee, led by the TUJS. After walking in procession through the streets ofAgartala town, a public meeting was held at the Agartala Children’s Park. The meeting was presided over by Aghore Deb Barma. The speakers were Harinath Deb Barma, Debabrata Kolai, Shyamacharan Tripura and others. The speakers vehemently criticised the post-independent policy of the government which was responsible for the abject backwardness of the tribal people in Tripura even after many years of Independence of the country.20 

 

The agitation of the TUJS-led Action Committee continued through meetings and representations. 

It submitted a Memorandum on the four-point Charter of Demands of the Tribal Convention to the Union Home Minister in New Delhi in September 1974. In the Memorandum it was said : ‘Without mincing matters it is worth being direct and briefin mentioning that the Government of India, through the last twenty five years, acted in collusion with the Administration of Tripura in speedily wiping out the Tribal Character of Tripura and make it up the home of Non-tribal Refugees. ‘ In the Memorandum the four-point Charter of Demands of the Tribal Convention of Tripura was reiterated. It urged upon the Government of India to fulfil these demands and concluded with some words of caution : 

‘The demonstration of July 10, already mentioned, seemed to have been belittled and smiled away. So it has become our part to show a fresh symptom of our sickness. 

‘It will be a democratic and peaceful Civil Disobedience, failing which we do not know what directives may come from the disgruntled tribals bereaved of all their hopes. ’21 

The TUJS continued its agitation in its line. But its younger group lost faith in its movement. They went underground and formed a secret organisation, named Tripura National Volunteer Force (TNV) in July 1978. It adopted a dangerous line of action programme which was anti-democratic, chauvinistic and separatist by nature. 

At the same time the TUJS also threatened a violent movement. In the later seventies, it was influenced by the developments in the adjoining States, particularly by the agitation against ‘foreigners’ in Assam. It picked up the issue and claimed that those who had settled in Tripura after 15 October 1949, the date of integration of Tripura State to the Indian Union, were all ‘foreigners’ and demanded their deportation from Tripura.22 Block deputations all over Tripura on 21 May 1980 and in the second phase ‘Bazar Boycott’ from the 1st to the 7th June 1980 were included in the action programme for deportation of the ‘foreigners’. 

Almost at the same time, the ‘Amra Bangali’ gave a call for a bandh on 17 January 1979 to oppose the implementation of the four-point Charter of Demands of the tribals. As a result tribal chauvinism bared out its ruly fangs. It instigated the TNV to commit the heinous act of violence. Thus, the darkest chapter of Tripura’s history— indiscriminate killings of innocent non-tribal people in June 1980 was written. The madness caused officially a lose of over 1300 lives, left 20,000 houses gutted, destroyed over Rs. 5 crores worth of grains and crops and made refugees of 1/5th of the Tripura population.23 However, the people of Tripura-tribals and non-tribals had overcome those days of sorrow by fighting unitedly for peace and prosperity. The divisive force ofnarrow sectarian and communal outlook were thus cornered. 

The Gana Mukti Parishad continued its movement. The Bengalees also rallied in a greater number to the support of the tribals. The CPI(M) Party in Tripura took up the tribal issues politically. As a result, the movement of the tribals for autonomy assumed the character of a mass movement. 

Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council

The Tribal Autonomy Movement in Tripura reached a decisive phase in 1977. The question of tribal autonomy was a major issue of the CPI(M) in Tripura. In 1977 the party joined two Coalition Ministries in Tripura— at first with the Congress for Democracy Party (CFD) and thereafter with the Janata Party. Both the times, the CPI(M) made efforts to get a resolution adopted by the Cabinet calling upon the Central Government to introduce the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India in the tribal areas of Tripura. But neither the CFD party nor the Janata party supported the issue. 

The Coalition Ministries were short-lived and Tripura went to the polls. The CPI(M) as the biggest partner of the Left Front put weightage to tribal autonomy in Tripura by making it an issue in the State Assembly Election of 1977 and assured the tribals that if voted to office, it would take up the issues 24:

  1. Central Government would be pressed for introducing the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India in the contiguous tribal compact Scheduled Areas of Tripura. The Tribal Reserve Area would be also reorganised. 
  2. Kok-Borak language would be recognised as a second official language in the State. 
  3. Appropriate steps would be taken for execution of law relating to restoration of tribal lands illegally alienated from the tribals. 
  4. Job-quota of the Scheduled Tribe communities would be strictly maintained and fulfilled. 
  5. Allocation of budget would be increased for education of the students of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Communities. 
  6. The scheme of Jhumia rehabilitation would be made more objective and economically viable. 

After a massive victory in the Assembly Election with 56 seats captured by the Left Front and only 4 seats by the TUJS, the Left Front Government in Tripura decided to set up a Tribal Autonomus District 

Council. Its original plan was the introduction of an 

Autonomous District Council under the Sixth 

Schedule to the Constitution. But the Janata Government at the Centre led by Morarji Dasai did not approve of it. As a result, the Left Front Government in Tripura introduced in the Legislative 

Assembly ‘The Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous 

District Council Bill, 1979’— a Bill in terms of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of India. It was passed unanimously in the House with two third of its members being the non-tribals.

The Bill, passed in the Tripura Legislative Assembly on 23 March 1979, was assented to by the President of India on 20 July 1979.25 

The Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council under the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution came into being on 18 January 1982, thus facilitating for the first time a tribal self-government in Tripura.

It allowed an elected 28-member Council ever opportunity to direct tribal life in a compact area comprising 164 revenue villages and 47 Tehsils to protect tribal right to land, guarantee employment and to ensure the right against exploitation by village money-lenders. 

Although an ADC in terms of the Fifth .Schedule was introduced. it did not satisfy the aspirations of the tribal people who were for an ADC under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of Indra. The Left Front Govcrntncnt also wanted it In the hill areas of Tripura. ‘While the Autonornous District Council was set up and has bccn functiomng within the limited resources, our government’s desire was for greater autonomy through protective constitutional positions. ’26 The Tripura Legislative Assembly adopted unanimous resolutions twice the first time on 10 March 1978 27 and the second time on 16 December 1983 -8 recommending to and requesting the Central Government to agree to the ‘just’ demand of the democratic people of Tripura regarding introduction of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India in the tribal areas of Tripura. 

The Tribal Autonomous District Council, in terms of the Sixth Scheduled to the Constitution of India. was one of the important demands of the CPi(M) Party in Tripura. The Party brought this issue into its national agenda through its Salkea Plenum held in December 1978. The Plenum adopted a resolution stating that ‘the Central Government refusing to set up a Tribal Autonomous District Council in the contiguous and compact areas of Tripura, as provided in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India, has created discontent among the tribal minorities of the area….. The Plenum requests the Central government to lend its help immediately to set up an Autonomous Tribal District Council for the tribal compact areas of Tripura. ‘ 

Moreover, the Plenum directed its Party units to ‘launch a countrywide campaign in of the tribal demands in Tripura and to expose the reactionary forces which are conspiring to disrupt the democratic unity of the tribal and non-tribal toiling masses of Tripura which is the solid base of the Left and democratic Govemtnent.’29

In the wake of persistent struggle, the Central Government at last agreed to introduce the Sixth Schedule. On 23 August 1984, a Bill was introduced in Parliament proposing an amendment to the

Constitution for introducing the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution in the tribal areas of Tripura. The Bill was passed and paved the way for a greater autonomy for the tribal people of Tripura. 

The ADC in terms of the Sixth Schedule was introduced on April l, 1985 replacing the 39 months old ADC under the Fifth Schedule. It has provided for a 30-member Council with 28 members, being elected (21 reserved for the tribals and 7 for the general category) and 2 nominated and a 8-member Executive Council including the Chairman, elected by the Council, to dispose of the matters falling within the purview of the District Council. 

The Autonomous Distirct Council when it came into being, covered an area of 7, 132,56 sq kms including 462 revenue villages out of Tripura’s total area of 10,492 sq km and a population of out of which 4,46,149 were tribals. 

The first election to ADC, under the Sixth Schedule, was held on 30 June 1985 and the oath-taking ceremony of the members took place on 19 July 1985. Thus, the long-cherished aspirations of the tribal people of Tripura for self-government was fulfilled. 

The Tripuris mother-tongue Kok-Borak has also been recongised by the Left Front Government in Tripura by amending the Tripura Official Language Act, 1964 in May 1979.30 Now along with Bengali, Kok-Borak is also an official language in Tripura. Again Kok-Borak has been introduced as the medium of instruction up to primary level. A Tribal Language Cell is created to function in the matter of designing and preparing lesson materials for the school-going children of the tribal people. 

Thus, three principal demands—land, language and local autonomy, which mustered the tribals are now fulfilled. The job-quota for the tribals in government services is strictly protected. It is now for the tribals in general to come forward and keep up the tempo of development in Tripura. 

The history of the Tribal Autonomy movement in Tripura is long. As a result of the movement, the

tribal people of Tripura got the right of self government. But the ADC is not a government in itself. It is an agency of self government. Earlier the tribals got little or no scope to get themselves associated with the policy-making or policyimplementation process of the government. Now it provides this scope. The ADC can undertake development scheme for the tribal areas and thus : help the State Government in the development work. If development of Tripura includes development of the tribal areas, the ADC is surely a part and parcel of the instrument of development in the hands of the Government of Tripura. The Tribal Autonomous District Council in Tripura is a product of a long-drawn out struggle of both the tribal and the non-tribal people of Tripura. It is a bond of unity between the tribals and the non-tribal people. The politics of tribalism produced little effect and ultimately made way for the tribal extremist groups which appeared to be indoctrinated with the cult of violence. The TNV or the later extremist groups are the products of the politics of tribalism. Their activities have all along been anti-democratic and separatist by nature. They are devoid ofmass support. 

On the other hand, the tribal movement which ran counter to the politics of tribalism drew wide support from both the tribal and the non-tribal people of Tripura. The democratic sections of both the tribal and non-tribal communities rallied to the support of the movement and made the tribal autonomy movement indomitable. It was, thus, crowned with success. 

Now, with the autonomy guaranteed, the tribal people of Tripura may be said to have overcome the crisis of identity. But this is not all. For the attainment of real identity, they shall have to fight for removing the material disparities which separate the advanced and the backward sections of society. And for that matter, the bond of unity between the tribal and the non-tribal communities must have to be strengthened further. 

Installation of ADC, recognition of Kok-Borak, 

protection of tribal interest on land-all these have opened up vistas before the tribal people of Tripura to preserve and protect the tribal identity and carry forward the process of emergence of their racial entity. 

NOTES AND REFERENCES 

  1. Dasgupta, Manas 1984. Tripura: Tribal Unrest. Economic and Political Weekly, Vol XIX (11): 449. March 17, 1984, Bombay.
  2. Sen, Tripura Chandra 1970 : 62. Tripura in Transition. Agartala. 
  3. Ibid., p. 54. 
  4. Deb, Dasaratha 1981. Tripura ganatantrik andolane gana mukti parishader bhumika. (Beng). Souvenir. Fifth Biennial Conference. Tripura Employees’ Coordination Committee. Agartala., p. 5. 
  5. Chaube, S. K. 1973: 193. Hill Politics in North East India, Calcutta. 
  6. Printed Leaflet: Upajatider astitwa rakshar dabite tripura upajati juba samitir andolan karmasuchi. (Beng). 7 January 1974. TUJS. Agartala. 
  7. Deb, Dasaratha 1981. op. cit., p. 4. (Trans). 
  8. Daily Desher Katha (Bengali Daily). 24 March 1983, Agartala. 
  9. Memorandum of the Tripura Rajya Gana Mukti Parishad, submitted to the Prime Minister of India on 10 September 1955. cf. Tripura Today. (Vol. Vll No XIX) 30 April 1985. Fortnightly Organ. Government of Tripura, Agartala.
  10. Tripurar Katha (Bengali Weekly). 27 November 1960, Agartala. 
  11. Daily Desher Katha (Bengali Daily). 4 March 1983, Agartala. 
  12. Resolution of the 3rd Conference of ‘Tripura Rajya Santi Sena Bahini’. Tripurar Katha (Bengali Weekly) 2 April 1961, Agartala.
  13. lbid.
  14. cc Tripura Today. (Vol. Vll No XIX) 30 April 1985. .Fortnightly Organ, Government of Tripura. 
  15. Administrative Reforms Commission, 1968: Report of the Study Team on the Union Territories and NEFA. Para 691. Delhi. 
  16. Dainik Sambad (Bengali Daily). 1st May 1974, Agartala. 
  17. Ibid. 4 May 1974. 
  18. Ibid. 6 June 1974. 
  19. Ibid. 11 June 1974. 
  20. Ibid. 11 July 1974. 
  21. Memorandum, dated, New Delhi, the 26th September 1974 submitted on behalf ofAction Committee of the Tribal Convention of Tripura. Also reported by Dainik Sambad (Bengali Daily). 29 September 1974, Agartala. 
  22. Tripura Upajati Juba Samity : Resolutions of the 12th Session held at Taidu, Amarpur from 13 to 16 March 1980. Also reported by Dainik Sambad (Bengali Daily). 17 March 1980. 
  23. Gupta P N. (n.d.) Rehabilitation of Families Affected by June 1980 Riots in Tripura. In Waves of Development in Tripura (n.d.) Directorate of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism. Government of Tripura. p. 7. 
  24. Election Manifesto of the Left Front in Tripura: Tripura Legislative Assembly Election, 1977. 
  25. File No. F. 2 (3)-Law/Leg/79, dated, 7th August 1979. Law Dept. Government of Tripura. 
  26. Address to the Tripura Legislative Assembly by General K.V. Krishna Rao (Rtd.), Governor of Tripura. 15 March 1985. p. 2. 
  27. Proceedings of the 4th Tripura Legislative Assembly (2nd Session) Series No. Il, Vol. I. P. 21. 
    1. Proceedines of the 5th Tripura Legislative 
  28. Resolution adopted in the plenum of CPI(M) held at Salkea from 27 to 31 December 1978. In Documents of the Communist Movement in India, ed. Jyoti Basu and others, (18) : 377-78. Calcutta. 
  29. Tripura Gazette (Extra-Ordinary Issue), 30 May 1979 A.D. 

Writer :Bijan Mohanta 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.