AGARTALA, Feb 12: Train services and vehicular movement were severely impacted in tribal belts of Tripura, as the ‘indefinite’ rail-road blockade over the Kokborok script issue by students’ bodies began on Monday.
The student wing of Tipra Motha, the main opposition party of the northeastern state, announced an indefinite road and rail blockade from February 12 to press for the demand that students be allowed to write their Kokborok language papers in Roman script in the upcoming class 10 and 12 state board examinations.
Tipra Motha supremo Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma claimed during the day that he got assurance from the ‘highest level’ in Delhi that the students will be allowed to write Kokborok in their choice of script.
Kokborok, an indigenous language spoken by nearly 24 per cent people of the northeastern state, does not have a script. Students generally write papers for the language in the Bengali script.
“Movement on rail tracks, national highways and state highways in tribal regions remained suspended since morning, due to the blockades put up at several locations,” a senior police officer said.
“Blockades were erected at many places in West Tripura district. However, normal life was largely unaffected in Agartala Municipal Corporation areas (AMC),” district magistrate (West Tripura), Visha Kumar, told PTI.
No untoward incident was reported during the movement, Assistant Inspector General (AIG), Law & Order, Jyotishman Das Chowdhury said.
The Tripura Central University has also suspended all undergraduate and postgraduate examinations scheduled for Monday and onwards, officials said.
The Tipra Indigenous Students’ Federation (TISF), Tipra Motha’s student wing, announced the agitation demanding that students be allowed to write Kokborok language papers in the Roman script in board examinations.
The move was supported by the Twipra Students’ Federation.
“I am in Delhi as the talks with the highest level are going on… I know the protest erupted in the entire Tripura over the script issue. I urge all of you to remain calm because violence will earn a bad name for us,” the Tipra Motha chief said in a video message.
Debbarma, however, did not specify which authority he was referring to.
He urged the agitators to withdraw the blockade after getting written communication from the competent authorities officially.
“I got assurance from the highest authority that the board examination will continue as it was to be conducted. The students will have full choice as far as script is concerned,” he said.
Terming the assurance as the “victory” of the society, Debbarma said no one should compromise with rights over land, identity and language.
Tripura Board of Secondary Education (TBSE) has said the examinees will have to write that paper in Bengali script in the exams next month, as it would be difficult for teachers to evaluate answer papers written in Roman script.
The Tipra Motha had promised to introduce the Kokborok language in Roman script in its election manifesto.
The class 10 and 12 examinations conducted by the TBSE will begin on March 1.
Nine sub-tribes of the Borok community speak this language. According to the 2011 census, 8,80,537 (23.97 per cent of the state’s total population) people speak this language. (PTI)