ThuNov232017

Don’t provide Corridor to India: Tripura Freedom Fighters Urge Bangladesh

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Mohammda Zainal Abedin, writes from NY, USA

The freedom fighters of Tripura urged Bangladesh government not to provide corridor, what Bangladesh

and India term as transit, to India . In anopen letter written to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, signed byRanjitdeb Barma, President of one of the leading guerrilla outfits of Tripura,‘Tripura People’s Democratic Front’ (TPDF) made this appeal. A copy of  the same letter was also sent to Bangladesh

President, Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament and Foreign Minister. Written in Bengali, Mr. Ranjitdeb Barma on November 12, 2012 emailed the same letter in pdf  over one hundred persons around the world, including some Bangladeshis other than me,  from an email: ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )’

 

Though he is totally unknown to me and never contacted me before nor later. I got the email on November 12, 2012. Due to heavy scheduled, I couldn’t give attention to it. As the core message of the letter is related to the interest, even existence, of Bangladesh.

I consider it as my moral responsibility to make it known to my countrymen and international community as well.

Before going to the contents of the letter, I think it wise to provide brief information regarding Tripura . Tripura is the closest neighbor of Bangladesh. It is surrounded by Bangladesh territory from three sides: North, West and South. Tripura shares 856km-long international border with Bangladesh. Tripura was part of a region of ancient Bengal named ‘Horikol’.

Tripura is basically the hilly part of Comilla district of Bangladesh, whose former name was Tripura and what is now Indian state of Tripura was a district named as ‘Hill Tripura’.  During the British rule Tripura was a Princely State ruled by feudal king. There were 565 such Princely States in the subcontinent. During the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 the British government adopted a liberal policy regarding the future status of the Princely States: they could either remain as independent or merge to India or Pakistan. But if they merge either of the country, they must consider its geographical proximity (whether they are close to India or Pakistan) and the hopes and aspiration of the people living therein.

Tripura didn’t instantly merge neither to India nor Pakistan, rather remained independent. According to Brithis policy on the future status of the Princely States, Tripura was supposed to merge to East Pakistan not only for its geographical proximity, but also its linguistic and cultural affinity and homogeneity (with Bangladesh).  The State language of Tripura is Bengali. The tribal people of Tripura also speak and use Bengali outside their house. Huge number of Muslims was there in Tripura in pre-47 period. Many Bangladeshis now living in greater Sylhet, Comilla and Noakhali migrated from Tripura selling or abandoning their farmlands and dwelling houses and business installation in Tripura which (abandoned property) were acquired and sold by the Indian government.

India wouldn’t have border with Tripura if Assam wouldn’t have merged to India. Assam and other States, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh were never parts of India, before the British intriguingly occupied Assam in 1830. The British when left their colonies handed over them to the local people granting independence. But due to the undue influence of expansionist Nehru, this policy/principle was grossly violated in case of seven sisters and they were merged to India denying the hopes and aspiration of the local people that prompted them to take arms and wage guerrilla war against Indian rule since 1947 which persists till date.

Tripura, as I mentioned earlier, was out of India in 1947. 184 kings ruled Tripura one after another before it was intriguingly merged to India in 1949. After the controversial demise of Tripuri king Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Deb Barma in 1947 India became active to occupy Tripura. Historians and the then eyewitnesses didn’t accept his death as natural. Vested-interests and Indian expansionist intriguers are believed to be the perpetrators of his death. India was in apprehension that due to the geographical proximity Tripura lest join the then East Pakistan what made India desperate to apply all types of tricks to merge Tripura to India. The king’s heir, prince Kirit Bir Bikram was only 13 years old at that time.

So a ‘Council of Regency’ was formed under the leadership of Queen Kanchanpova Debi who ruled the country on behalf of her son, the minor king. The Queen considering all aspects and the British principle regarding the merger of the princely States contacted Pakistan to merge Tripura to Pakistan. The then Pakistani rulers failed to take positive and prompt decision on the issue. But it alarmed and scared India, as it was impatiently waiting to grab it putting pressure on the queen covertly and overtly. Unexpected and undue violence erupted in Tripura that shocked the queen.

The queen was kept busy in handling internal crisis and had little scope and time to further contact to Pakistan. India using its agents reinforced its pressure on her to compel her to merge Tripura to India. The unthinkable death of the prince during that tempest period befooled and bewildered the queen further. It is believed India had a hand behind the premature death of the prince. Under this situation, the aggrieved and bewildered queen Kanchanprova Devi on September 9, 1949 signed a document merging Tripura to India. In this way Triura lost its independence, existence and identity. To salvage and recover the lost independence the patriotic forces of Tripura wage armed conflict with the Indian forces. People of the other six States of the region are also at war with India. To deter and crash them India deployed 0.4 million regular soldiers in the region other than innumerous number of police and para-militia forces.

Under this situation Mr. Ranjit Deb Barma, the President of the pro-liberation outfit TPDF sent an open letter to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh whose copies were also sent to the President, the leader of the Opposition in the Parliament and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is beyond my knowledge how much importance the Prime Minister attached to this open letter. But comprehending the significance I think it wise to bring it to the notice of our people and international community so that they can comprehend what our closest neighbors desire and deserver from us and   why Bangladesh should retreat from providing some suicidal concessions that India wants to get. 

Pointing to the history of Tripura Ranjt Deb Barma informed Bangladesh Prime Minister, “You are aware that the present day Tripur was once an independent and sovereign state ruled by Maharaja (king). 184 kings consecutively ruled it for 1,350 years.    --- Tripura was a separate independent and sovereign State ruled by the king when India achieved its independence in 1947 from Britain waging movement. But the newly installed Indian ruling axis through deliberate intrigues initiated to occupy many tiny independent States, including Tripura, ruled by the kings.  India threatening to launch military invasion in one hand and planting conspiracy on the other summoned the then Chairperson of the ‘Council of Regency’ Kanchanprova Debi the widow of late king of Tripura, to Delhi. She was confined in New Delhi and applying pressure and force compelled her to sign so-called ‘merger agreement’. Since then Tripura is being ruled by the Indian occupational cliques.”

“You know, the people of Tripura never accepted Indian expansionist occupation in Tripura. This is the reason why the pro-independence people of Tripura wage their struggle sometimes through democratic process and at times armed resistance. As part of that continuous struggle TPDF (Tripura People’s Democratic Front) representing the pro-liberation people of Tripura wages relentless armed resistance since July 11, 1990 against the Indian occupational rule to recover independent and sovereign Tripura State what is being continued till date. It became impossible to continue democratic movement on the face of cruel torture, murder, kidnapping, gang-rape on women committed by the Indian occupation forces that compelled the pro-liberation people of Tripura to wage armed resistance. TPDF continues that resistance along with the pro-liberation people of Tripura. Not only the people of Tripura, but also the pro-liberation people of Northeastern region, including Assam and Manipur, unitedly wage national emancipation struggle against the Indian occupation forces.”

Ranjit Deb Barma added, “Indian occupational rulers on February 16, 1997 declared Tripura ‘A Disturbed Area’ what is still continues. Since declaring Tripura as ‘Disturbed Area’, martial law is in force under the cover of democratic rule.  Thousands of regular soldiers, para-military forces of different names and police have been deployed and let loose against the unarmed pro-liberation civilians. And the forces were provided with the ‘Armed Forces Special Power Act 1958’.  Army personnel can shoot at any individual on suspicion without prior warning. As a result, they kill the innocent Tripuri youths branding them as so-called ‘extremists’, ‘terrorists’ what is still continued.  Unarmed youths under the darkness of night are caught from different villages and hills and kill them under the cover of crossfire.   --- Availing Special Power Act law enforcers arrest hundreds of youths branding them as the collaborators of the so-called extremists who are tortured and detained in prison for years. Despite all these atrocities the Indian occupation cliques couldn’t halt the liberation struggle of the pro-independence people.”

“Dear Madam, we came to learn that being failed to frustrate the national liberation struggle of the Northeastern region, including Tripura, the Indian occupation cliques sought transit facilities through Bangladesh to carry their troops and weapons. We learnt from reliable sources that this transit facility were sought to bring weapons under the cover of different materials from West Bengal of India to Tripura. We humbly request the honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina to deny it if such proposal was placed. If Bangladesh government provides such facility to Indian occupation power, they will get special advantage to suppress the freedom fighters of Northeastern region, including Tripura. This will be equivalent to taking the side of the occupation axis and standing against the pro-liberation people.

Any decision of Bangladesh government will not be justified one if it causes the national liberation struggle of the Northeastern region, including Tripura. So on behalf of the pro-liberation people it is the humble appeal to the President and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh if you have decided to provide transit facility to India, in that case, please reject that proposal of Indian government from humanitarian point of view considering the misery of exploited, deprived, oppressed and neglected people.

The people of Northeastern region, including Tripura, believe being a neighboring country the government of Bangladesh and its pro-independent people will never support and accept this proposal of Indian government.  Claiming themselves as pro-liberation forces, they can’t stand against the liberation struggle of others. We want to remind you, during the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971 two million Bangladeshi refugees took shelter in Tripura and the people of Tripura assisted them according to their own ability. So we will hope Bangladesh government will not take such decision that can anyway hamper the liberation struggle of Northeastern region, including Tripura.”

Highlighting the arguments in favor of their struggle Ranjit Deb Barma wrote, “The occupation Indian ruling class propagate that the liberation struggle of Northeastern region, including Tripura, is a ‘secessionist movement’. They launch false propaganda branding independence and freedom struggle as ‘terrorist' activities. The main goal of such propaganda is to confuse and mislead international community to create public opinion in favor of India and agitate them against the pro-liberation people.

We on behalf of the pro-liberation people of Tripura and TPDF want to clearly declare that ‘The people of Tripura do not want to segregate any portion of Indian territory. We are fighting not to segregate any portion of India, but to recover the independence and sovereignty of Tripura where Indian ruling clique let loosing thousands troops who  forcibly continue their occupational rule; commit exploitation, deprivation, oppression, injustice, negligence against the innocent people and occupy, exploit and enjoy Tripura’s natural resources for years. There is no scope to brand our struggle as secessionist movement.

The long history of Tripura and many symbols of independent Tripura, including the living ‘Uzzayee’ palace at its capital Agartala, justify that Tripura is an independent sovereign State. Tripura historically was not a part of India. So it will be an act of gross violation of human rights and injustice to deprive the people of Tripura of their rights of independence. The people of Bangladesh are to extend their helping hand against injustice and stand by the side of the pro-liberation people. This is the expectation of the pro-liberation people of Tripura.”

Pointing to the peaceful resolution of Tripura problem, Ranjit Deb Barma mentioned, “Being the representative organization of the pro-independence people of Tripura ‘Tripura People’s Democratic Front’ (TPDF) urged various international forum, including United Nations Organization to resolve this problem through dialogue. TPDF placed a proposal before the Indian government to hold a plebiscite under UN supervision to determine whether the people of Tripura want to remain under the Indian occupational rule, or desire to live as an independent nation. We believe the only way to peaceful, dignified and acceptable resolution is to hold plebiscite. This is the peaceful and acceptable way, through which the East Trimore problem was resolved. Tripura problem can be resolved applying the same process. Showing regards and honor to the international law and the struggle of the pro-liberation people Indian ruling axis are to come forward to the peaceful resolution of the dispute. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed, being an ambassador of peace, can play as mediator an important and vital role on this issue.”

TPDF leader making a clarion call said, “To ensure stable and peaceful co-existence in South-east Asia, we humbly request and urge the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, our neighboring country, to initiate the process of  peaceful solution to the longstanding dispute and end bloody conflict.  We hope and believe that she will become active to play significant role to establish peace, stability, development and uphold democracy for peaceful co-existence.

In the concluding part of the open letter the TPDF President said, “We will humbly request, Bangladesh government will not take such decision that will deter the independence struggle of the pro-liberation people of Northeastern region, including Tripura.  In the same way to uphold peace, fraternity, stability and democracy we appeal to the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to play bold role of a mediator in order to solve the problems of this region. The pro-liberation people of Tripura trust that the honorable Prime Minister applying her talent, prudence and intellect will initiate bold step in establishing peace in Southeast Asia.”

It needs to mention, other than TPDF of Tripura, all other pro-independence outfits, including ULFA of Assam, on several occasions urged Bangladesh not to provide corridor facilities to India. Bangladeshi intellectuals and military analysts cautioned the government saying that corridor facility to India will be suicidal and dangerous for the interest and stability of Bangladesh. They suggested the government not to bow down under pressure and repeatedly reminded about the probable grievous consequences.

According to them, Bangladesh may be a target of guerrilla attack if the request of the freedom fighters of Northeastern region is rejected. In that case Bangladesh may become a ground of Indian war.  Comprehending the significance and probable grievous consequences it would be a judicious and prudent act for Bangladesh to retreat from the decision of providing corridor to India.  All the previous governments right from Sheikh Mujib, Ziaur Rahman, Sattar, Ershad, Khaleda, even Sheikh Hasina (during her first term) would have given corridor to India if it was favorable for Bangladesh. The incumbent Sheikh Hasina government must realize the objective and goal of that practiced policy of her predecessors. A summersault from that strategy would be a debacle to our far-reaching interest, and even the existence of Bangladesh may face extreme and grievous crisis.*

 

Mohammad Zainal Abedin is a NY-based journalist & researcher

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

(N.B. Please stand for Bangladesh and send this article to your friends around the world)

 

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