Agartala: Road and rail traffic was disrupted in Tripura on Monday as the INPT — the state’s oldest tribal-based party — blocked the highway and railway line demanding the withdrawal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
“The blockade by the INPT (Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura) disrupted both the road and rail traffic since 6 a.m. However, police around noon arrested over a thousand INPT workers and leaders, resulting in the resumption of normal movement of vehicles and trains,” a police official said.
Demanding withdrawal of the Bill, over a thousand INPT activists led by party President Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl and General Secretary Jagadhish Debbarma organised a blockade of the state’s lone railway line and National Highway-8, the lifeline of Tripura, in four different places in west and north Tripura.
Introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2016, the Bill seeks to enable Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh without valid travel documents or those whose valid documents expired in recent years to acquire Indian citizenship through the process of naturalisation.
Many parties in the northeastern region are also opposing the Bill, which is now under the scrutiny of a Joint Parliamentary Committee.
“If the Central government does not withdraw the bill then we will hold a much larger movement to force the Centre to take it away, otherwise it would subvert the domicile characteristics of the indigenous people of northeast India,” Debbarma told the media at the blockade site.
According to police, three trains including the Agartala-Silchar (Assam) train could not run in view of the blockade and thousands of passengers were stranded in Agartala, Dharmanagar (along Assam), Silchar and other places.
Over two thousand police personnel and Tripura State Rifles troopers have been deployed to deal with the blockade.
The INPT along with several other tribal-based parties including the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s ally Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura are also demanding the introduction of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Tripura, introduction of inner-line permit in Tripura, more autonomy to the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council and inclusion of the tribals’ Kokborok language in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution.