Agartala, February 12, 2024: Several parts of Tripura, especially the areas under the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), have been hit by severe road and rail disruptions due to an indefinite blockade imposed by indigenous student groups and civil society organizations. The blockade, which started on Monday, is aimed at pressuring the Tripura Board of Secondary Education (TBSE) to allow the use of the Roman script for Kokborok language exams.
The protesters claim that the Roman script is more suitable and convenient for the Kokborok-speaking people, and that the government is violating their fundamental rights by forcing them to use the Bengali script. They also allege that the government has ignored their memorandum submitted to the TBSE president.
“The government is not listening to the voice of the indigenous people. They are imposing a script that is not preferred by us. This is an infringement of our rights and a threat to our identity. The government has failed to protect the interests of the indigenous people,” said John Debbarma, vice president of TIPRA Indigenous Student’s Federation, one of the leading organizations behind the blockade.
On the other hand, Jagadish Debbarma, chairman of TTAADC and a senior leader of TIPRA Motha, said that they are not opposed to either the Bengali or the Roman script, but they want the option to choose the script that is more accessible for them. He also slammed the state government for threatening to take action against the students who use the Bengali script in the board exams.
The blockade has caused immense hardship to the commuters and the traders, as well as affected the supply of essential commodities and services. The state government has deployed security forces to maintain law and order, and appealed to the protesters to call off the blockade and resolve the issue through dialogue.