AGARTALA: Life was crippled in northern Tripura's Kanchanpur subdivision on Monday as the Joint Movement Committee called a shutdown for an indefinite period in protest against the government's decision to rehabilitate thousands of tribal refugees, who fled adjoining Mizoram 23 years ago following ethnic strife in the area.
According to Sub-Divisional Police Officer Bikramjit Sukladas, there was no untoward incident in view of the indefinite shutdown, which began at 6 a.m., called by the Joint Movement Committee (JMC), comprising tribal and non-tribal leaders.
"Government offices, markets, shops and business establishments remained closed while all types of vehicles, except those of the security forces, health and media, remained off the roads," said Sukladas over the phone from Kanchanpur, adjoining Mizoram.
Several thousand bandh supporters, including women and children organised protest rallies and demonstrations in front of the government offices and markets.
JMC Convener Sushanta Bikash Barua said that they had earlier welcomed the state government's decision to rehabilitate a small number of the tribal refugees in Kanchanpur.
He said: "Considering the area and demography of the Kanchanpur subdivision, we had urged the government, on a number of occasions, to rehabilitate not more than 500 refugee families here, but the government unilaterally initiated the process to settle 5,000 tribal families in the area."
Barua, accompanied by the other leaders of the JMC, said that on September 22, a 12-hour strike was observed demanding to alter the State government's decision to rehabilitate the huge number of tribal refugees, but the state government remained firm on its decision.
The 'NagarikSuraksha Mancha' (Citizens' Protection Forum) and the Mizo Convention — both representing the non-tribals and Lusai (Lushai) tribals — are part of the JMC. The ethnic issue also spread and reflected in the adjoining sub-divisions of Kanchanpur.
An agreement was signed in January this year to end the 23-year-old crisis by rehabilitating over 34,000 refugees, from 5,400 families of the Reang community, locally called "Bru", in different places of Tripura, including Kanchanpur, where they had migrated in 1997 from Mizoram following ethnic conflict. The agreement was signed by the Chief Secretaries of Mizoram, Tripura and the representatives of the refugees in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. (IANS)