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Sat, 25 Jan 2020

Northeast Today

The Conundrum of the Indigenous Tripuri

The Conundrum of the Indigenous Tripuri
April 10
11:58 2019

Statewide Tripura

 The friction between the Bengalis and the indigenous communities of Tripura heats up with the impelling of the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Himel Singha throws light on the issue.


The state of Tripura which currently shares 856 km long border with Bangladesh, was a Princely State ruled by Kirit Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur Debbarma of the Manikya Dynasty. It became a part of the Indian Union after the Tripura Merger Agreement was signed on the 9th of September 1949. During his reign, the population was mainly composed of the nine indigenous Tripuri Communities namely, Debbarma, Tripura, Reang (or Bru), Jamatia, Koloi, Noatia, Murasing, Uchoi, Rupini and some Bengali families who ended up in the Indian Territory after the India-East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) partition.

Tripura has always seen Bangladeshi immigrants stepping foot illegally into the Indian Territory, as there are certain places where the fencing is negligible. Due to which there has been a significant rise in the number of Bangladeshi immigrants who have settled down in Tripura, over the years.

Current Scenario:

As the third smallest state in India and agriculture being the primary source of livelihood, the people of Tripura have always struggled to find a better scope of earning. And due to the rise in immigrant population, the lives of the Indigenous Tribes have become more challenging. Seeking for a better life style, the immigrants have slowly shifted towards the towns. Since they speak the same language, they have gelled up with the local Bengali people very well. They have started participating in political affairs, working in Govt. sectors, set up new business, etc. Although there are Tribal families who live in the city, their count is very low. Today, the once majority Indigenous Tribal Communities have now become the minority. Hence, sometimes the native Tribes feel the Bengali hegemony is neglecting them. They feel alienated in their own motherland.

According to a Population History of Tripura report 2011, the population of Native Tripuri was around 11.5 lacs out of a total population of approximately 38 lacs. Situation like this has led to Region Political Parties of Tripura led by Indigenous Tribes demanding for a state for Indigenous Tribe of their own called “Tipraland”.




The Bill:

Lately, the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 was proposed in the Parliament. If the Bill is passed, it would allow all the Non-Muslim Bangladeshi immigrants to take up Indian citizenship. Citing the situation of the Tribes to get worse, the Indigenous people have united to oppose this bill as they felt their motherland has being taken away from them and their existence is under jeopardy.

The Result:

Thankfully, the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 was adjourned without any future date by the Rajya Sabha on 13th February 2019. This brought a sigh of relief amongst the Indigenous Communities.


According to a local, Mr. James Debbarma it is a moment to rejoice and he says that his faith on Democracy has been restored. It is the people who should decide the outcome of a law and in this case, Tripura, Assam and the whole nation have won.

Last Words:

Although the Bill has been adjourned, there is a possibility this topic could come up again. Instead of leaving a scope to make a return for the Citizenship Amendment Bill, it would be better to deport the immigrants under The Foreigners Act, 1946. Nevertheless, will it happen? It still remains as a clouded thought.





About the author: Born and brought up in Tripura, Himel is currently pursuing Civil engineering from SJBIT College, Bengaluru. He is an avid bike rider and loves playing Table Tennis.




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