| Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar speaks during the Assembly session in Agartala on Monday. Picture by UB Photos |
Agartala, March 10: The issue of influx of Bangladeshi nationals into Tripura figured in the state Assembly session, which reopened today with incumbent Congress MLA and former leader of the Opposition Ratanlal Nath accusing the ruling Left Front of conniving with infiltrators in “narrow political interest”.
While speaking on his cut motion on the budget, Nath deviated to infiltration and referred to chief minister Manik Sarkar’s reply furnished in the Assembly on February 24.
“The chief minister who also holds the home portfolio had said in his reply that over the past three years, 6,356 Bangladeshi infiltrators had been detected and 4,695 of them had been pushed back. My question is, what happened to the remaining 1,661 infiltrators? Have they settled down in Tripura and been given ration cards or voter ID cards?” asked Nath.
The chief minister was not in the House when Nath was speaking. Nath later said CPM leaders and workers have been encouraging infiltration of Bangladeshi nationals all along the state’s border with Bangladesh. “The modus operandi is simple. Bangladeshis are allowed to sneak in with the help of relatives settled here. Once they come in they are given ration cards, permanent residency certificates and enlisted in the voter list. This process has been continuing in the CPM’s partisan interest,” said Nath.
He added that without an appropriate survey it is not possible to quantify the infiltrators but “they must be substantial in number”.
Nath squarely blamed the CPM for its “shifting and opportunistic stand” on infiltration. Citing minutes of a high-level, all-party meeting held on February 26 1992, Nath said chief minister Manik Sarkar had led the CPM delegation in the meeting. “You must remember that in 1992 the CPM was in the Opposition and Sarkar found it politically convenient to raise the issue of infiltration from Bangladesh demanding confinement of identified Bangladeshi nationals in special camps and their deportation. At that time they had also demanded inner-line permits for ADC areas and involvement of the Assam Rifles in the mobile task force of the state police for checking infiltration. All these demands had been raised to pacify the sentiments of the indigenous people and protect their numbers but after coming to power in 1993, the CPM has taken no step against infiltration,” Nath said.
He showed that Manik Sarkar, as leader of the CPM delegation, had signed the resolution of the all-party meeting. Nath demanded drastic action against “continuing infiltration” of Bangladeshi nationals into Tripura.
However, CPM office secretary Haripada Das trashed Nath’s allegations, saying the problem of infiltration did not exist in Tripura.
“You have to look at the census figures and population growth pattern over the past two decades. Population growth rate in Tripura has been much lower than even the national rate,” said Das. He accused Nath of creating an issue out of a non-issue.