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May 18, 2024

Tripura’s Landless Families Seek Government Attention with Forest Protest

Landless Families Take Shelter in Forests to Demand Land Rights

In a desperate bid to secure land rights, around 30 to 40 families from various parts of North Tripura district have taken to spending their nights in the forests of Peku Cherra in the Panisagar subdivision. These families, whose homes are built on government land, live under the constant threat of eviction. Their objective is clear: to draw the government’s attention to their plight and to secure individual land titles for permanent settlement.

A Unique Protest for Permanent Settlement

Driven by the hope of gaining legal recognition and stability, these families have set up makeshift huts made of tarpaulin sheets and bamboo in the forest areas. Despite acknowledging that their move might not immediately resolve their long-standing issues, the families consider this act a crucial step in making their voices heard by the government.

Struggles of Displacement and Uncertainty

Kartik Nama, a resident of the Jayashree area, is one of the protestors. His house, located on land recently allocated for a police station, faces imminent threat. “We have lived in the Jayashree area for two generations. Half of our land was taken over by police station authorities, and the rest is also earmarked for government construction. We could soon be left without a home,” Nama shared with ANI.

Despite being a beneficiary of the PM Awas Yojana, Nama’s hope of living in his new home is overshadowed by the state’s attempts to reclaim the land. “I built my new house with government aid, but now its future is uncertain. I’m here to make the government listen. If I get the right to live on my land, I’d leave the forest immediately,” he explained. Currently, Nama and his wife are the only ones from his family of six staying in the forest hut.

Ethnic Tensions and Forced Relocation

Krishna Nath, another protestor from Kanchanpur subdivision, sought refuge in the forest to escape ethnic tensions after displaced Brus settled in his neighborhood. Nath’s family, like many others, does not have legal ownership of their previous land. “We moved from Anandabazar to Dasda, and then to Kanchanpur, due to the violence. Now, we’ve come here to seek the government’s intervention,” Nath told ANI.

He attributed the ethnic tensions to the settlement of the Brus, which forced his family to constantly relocate. “We lived in rented spaces but want the government to address our issues and find a solution,” he added.

Political Support and Government Response

A delegation from the opposition CPIM party, led by two MLAs, recently visited the forest to meet with the displaced families. The MLAs urged the families to return home, emphasizing that organized settlement in forest areas is illegal. “We convinced several families to go back, and five have returned so far. We will present their issues to the authorities and raise their concerns in the upcoming assembly session,” said CPIM MLA Shailendra Chandra Nath.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Manik Saha has acknowledged the issue and expressed the government’s intent to address it on humanitarian grounds. Speaking to the media, Saha stated, “While the law does not allow for settlement in reserve forest areas, we will consider the matter with compassion.”

Conclusion

The plight of Tripura’s landless families underscores a significant socio-political issue. These families, driven by desperation and the hope for a secure future, have chosen an unconventional protest by taking refuge in forests. Their struggle highlights the urgent need for governmental intervention and a sustainable solution to their land rights issues.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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