Agartala, March 29: The Tripura Assembly recently witnessed a heated protest by members of TIPRA Motha (Tipraha Indigenous Peoples Regional Alliance), demanding the use of Roman script for the Kokborok dialect spoken by most of the indigenous people in the state. TIPRA, now recognised as the main Opposition party in the state, has been pushing for several contentious demands, including a “Greater Tipraland,” a separate state for Tripura’s 33% tribal population.
The demand for replacing the Bangla script with the Roman script for the Kokborok dialect, which is the second official language in Tripura, is a part of TIPRA’s efforts. It wants the change to take place in all levels of examinations.
The Leader of the Opposition Animesh Debbarma raised the issue in the Assembly through a calling attention notice and claimed that several tribal students opted out of the recently held school leaving examinations because the Roman script was not allowed.
In response, Chief Minister Manik Saha suggested a discussion on the matter at a later date, but TIPRA MLAs demanded instant assurance on the script issue. Unsatisfied with the CM’s reply, they rushed to the well of the House and raised slogans. The House was briefly adjourned for 10 minutes as the scheduled business was not transacted.
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The demand for Roman script for the Kokborok dialect has been a contentious issue in Tripura for several years. The indigenous people of Tripura have been demanding the use of Roman script instead of Bangla for their language, citing a lack of clarity and accuracy in the current script.
The TIPRA Motha’s demand has now added a political dimension to the issue, making it a major point of contention between the ruling party and the opposition.
The TIPRA Motha has been raising several contentious issues in the state, including the demand for a separate state for the tribal population of Tripura.
The demand for “Greater Tipraland” has been a long-standing demand of the tribal population, and the TIPRA Motha’s success in the recent ADC (Autonomous District Council) polls has strengthened its demand.
The ongoing protests and demands for the Kokborok dialect’s Roman script highlight the challenges of preserving and promoting indigenous languages and cultures in the face of increasing globalisation and homogenization. The demand for a separate state also underlines the deep-seated political and social tensions between the tribal and non-tribal populations in Tripura.