ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Tribal Insurgency and Rural Development in Tripura

A major issue in Tripura is the rigid ideological-political positions of the party in power which inhibits it from taking advantage of the (limited but real) progressive elements in the rural development policy and programme of the centre.

The recent attack by tribal militants  at Panchabati in West Tripura district, not far from the state headquarters, in which 18 non-tribals were killed, inevitably brings to mind the Mandai massacre of 1980 in the same district, in which over 200 non-tribals were killed in a similar tribal uprising. Then, as now, land-related issues were at the back of the violence. Then, as now, a CPI(M)-led state government was in power. Tripura, thus, seems to have come a full circle with no visible end to the increasing tribal militancy in the state. The recent incident has predictably been followed by calls by the ruling politicians for the deployment of more central paramilitary forces and by the opposition Congress and BJP for the imposition of president’s rule.

When a CPI(M)-led state government assumed office in April 1993, under the chief ministership of Dasarath Deb, the legendary leader of the agrarian revolt in Tripura, observers had hoped that a speedy end would come to the persisting tribal militancy in the state. However, the militancy has not only continued but has even intensified in the subsequent period. Dasarath Deb, the tribal leader, was selected for the chief ministership, despite his (well known) poor health, mainly because the ruling CPI(M) wished to send a message to the tribal people that their interests were safe in his hands. However, throughout his regime, Dasarath Deb remained essentially a prisoner of his poor health rather than being the effective and dynamic head of a revitalised administrative setup to give teeth to tribal welfare measures. The state administration remained mired in bureaucratic immobility, thanks to its systematic manipulation by an immature and inexperienced administrative coterie at the top. The security situation steadily deteriorated even as selected bureaucrats pursued personal power and pelf, at the cost of the good of the state. Every time a major violent incident took place, calls would be issued by the ruling politicians for a larger deployment of central forces with the bureaucracy being content to hold ‘security co-ordination’ meetings in the chief secretary’s room, followed by unctuous letters of entreaty to the central government appealing for more CRPF units for the state. The joke became that every time a fresh incident took place, expeditious steps were taken by the police to post additional security guards outside the office of the DG of Police!

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Back to Top