PM listens to Tripura CM on tackling militants

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Agartala, Dec. 2: Amid the din and bustle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Tripura on December 1, what escaped public attention was the patient hearing given by the Prime Minister to chief minister Manik Sarkar’s version on how insurgency had been curbed in the state and how surrendered rebels were being rehabilitated.

After inaugurating the 363.3MW of second unit of Palatana thermal power plant yesterday, Modi flew back to Agartala en route to New Delhi. However, before boarding the aircraft, Modi had an interactive session with the state’s council of ministers in the state guesthouse.

The Prime Minister showed a keen interest to know how Tripura had solved its ethnic insurgency problem and how surrendered militants were being rehabilitated.

Sarkar said besides going for largescale counter-insurgency operations, his government as well as his party, the CPM, had launched a statewide political initiative and campaign to expose the futile and hollow nature of insurgency and how it was adversely impacting the lives of impoverished tribals in the interior areas. “We managed to convince the indigenous people that they were the worst sufferers from insurgency and they must come forward to stop this by refusing food and shelter to the insurgents; they did so and we got success,” said Sarkar.

He also briefed the Prime Minister about the schemes and projects through which the surrendered rebels were being rehabilitated.

Official sources privy to the meeting said Modi had requested Sarkar to send him a detailed note on Tripura’s successful fight against insurgency and on how peace was restored in the state.

“The Prime Minister wanted the note by December 7 when he will address the chief ministers of the country in Delhi,” a source said.

Apart from this, the state government urged the Prime Minister to persuade Bangladesh to allow access to its water and land routes that could be used to transport material to the northeastern states, Sarkar said.

The chief minister told reporters that access to Chittagong international port and Ashuganj river port in Bangladesh is crucial for ferrying men and materials from other parts of India and abroad to the Northeast.

“A multi-modal transportation system using Bangladeshi ports is crucial for the Northeast as the region is mountainous and has a rough terrain,” Sarkar said.

Chittagong sea port is around 70km from Tripura and Ashuganj port over the Meghna river in eastern Bangladesh is around 40km from Tripura. The state government has also urged Modi to set up a central agricultural university, an IIT and an IIM to make the northeastern state an educational hub. Sarkar said, “We have asked the Prime Minister to step up the works for setting up the proposed fertiliser plant in Tripura by ONGC. A petro-chemical complex using natural gas, found abundantly in the state, must be set up too.”

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