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Patal Kanya’s foray into earthly politics

Agartala, March 31: Patal Kanya Jamatya’s name has earned a name for itself.

She is known in East Tripura for her name, which means “daughter of the nether world”, as well as her determination to fight for the people of her community.

The 39-year-old firebrand is contesting the Lok Sabha poll from the East Tripura (ST) seat as an Independent and attributes her name to parental choice.

Born at Brahmabari village under Teliamura subdivision of Khowai district, Patal Kanya had lost her peasant father, Brahmapada Jamatya, before her education was complete.

“I graduated from Tripura University in 2007 and got my masters from Institute of Advanced Studies in Education (IASE) deemed university in Rajasthan in 2011,” said Patal Kanya.

Instead of trying for a job, she had joined the regional Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura to fight for the rights of indigenous people.

However, frustrated with the party’s “organisational inertia” made her join the INPT early last year.

“I had opposed the INPT’s electoral alliance with the Congress this time and requested our leadership to give a chance to the younger generation of workers and leaders like us but they went ahead with the alliance. Hence, I entered the fray as an Independent. That way, I am a rebel,” she said with her characteristic candour.

Patal Kanya’s name is also representative of the unconventional names given among the indigenous people.

More than a decade ago in 1998, a couple of the indigenous community were travelling by boat from remote Raisyabari village in Dhalai district to the subdivisional hospital at Gandacherra for the delivery of their child.

The wife gave birth to a girl child on the boat itself and the newborn was named Jaladebi (water goddess) Jamatya.

A group of sericulture department officials remembers being amused when an elderly indigenous female weaver introduced herself as Communist Pati Debbarma.

“She explained that she was born when the Communist movement was gaining ground in her village Champak Nagar and nearby areas in the late forties and her parents had named her Communist Pati,” said deputy director of the state sericulture department, Sushanta Chakraborty.

During the Tripura National Volunteers insurgency that rocked Tripura in the eighties, two militant commanders had been named Russia Debbarma and Soviet Koloi.

Both had surrendered, along with the entire group in September 1988 at Gobinda Bari under Dhalai district.

“It seems such names reflect an urge among the indigenous people to have names quite distinct from the Sanskritised names of Bengalis,” said Birendra Tripura, a social worker in Sabroom subdivision of South Tripura, dominated by the Noatia, Chakma and Mog communities.

“You will be surprised to know that in Sabroom town higher secondary school there are Noatia students named Ghar (thatched hut or pucca building) Tripura, Bari (home or house) Tripura while there is a Chakma student named Kalapata (banana leaf) Chakma,” he added.

He said over the past few years, indigenous people have started giving Kokborok names to newborns like Khachuk, Homchang and Khumbar.


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