Agartala: The influential Twipra Students Federation (TSF) has called for a 12-hour shutdown in Tripura on Monday demanding introduction of Roman script for the tribal Kokborok language and passage of the 125th Constitutional Amendment Bill.
The state’s main tribal-based opposition Tipra Motha Party and the TSF have been holding a numerous agitational programme for the past few months to introduce Roman script in Kokborok language and approval of 125th Constitutional Amendment Bill, which when enacted would further empower ten tribal autonomous bodies in northeast – three each in Assam, Mizoram, and Meghalaya and one in Tripura.
TSF President Samrat Debbarma and General Secretary Hamulu Jamatia said that despite agitations, the present state government is indifferent towards their demands.
Jamatia said that since the government is unresponsive towards their two vital demands they have been forced to call dawn to dusk shutdown on Monday.
The Constitution 125th (Amendment) Bill was tabled in the Rajya Sabha by the government in 2019 and it seeks to further strengthen the 6th Schedule of the Constitution, under which the ten tribal autonomous bodies were constituted in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.
Tripura has a 12 lakh tribal population out of its 40 lakh inhabitants and 70 per cent of the tribals speak in the Kokborok language, which was recognised as the second official language by the then CPI-M led Left Front government in 1979.
The demand for the Roman script for Kokborok recently got strength after there were reports that students in various schools in Tripura, specially the Central Board of Secondary Education run schools, were compelled to write answers for the Kokborok subject in the CBSE board examination in the Bengali script.
The Tipra Motha Party has also been spearheading agitations across Tripura demanding the introduction of the Roman script for Kokborok.
For over five decades, there has been a debate over the use of the Bengali and Roman scripts for the Kokborok language.
While some Kokborok speakers favour Bengali, the majority of the tribal intellectuals and academicians advocate for the Roman script.
Since 1988, two commissions have been set up on the issue under tribal leader Shyama Charan Tripura and linguist and academician Pabitra Sarkar.
A Tipra Motha Party leader said that Kokborok is the mother tongue of the tribal people and it belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family and is close to other languages of the northeastern region such as Bodo, Garo and Dimasa.