Tripura PCC president Pradyot Kishore Manikya DebBarman taking part in the protest rally on Wednesday

Agartala: A mass rally was organised on Wednesday by the indigenous people of the state against a proposed Border Security Force (BSF) firing range at Manu-Chailengta ADC village area under Kanchanpur sub-division of North Tripura district covering 2,700 acres of forest land.

A preparatory committee led by royal scion and Pradesh Congress Committee president Pradyot Kishore Manikya DebBarman on Wednesday placed a memorandum to the Kanchanpur sub-division magistrate Abhinanda Baidya opposing the plan for setting up the firing range in the forest land.

Addressing the protest rally, DebBarman said that the firing range which is proposed to be built in the area will affect the lives of hundreds of people living there. Many people living in those villages are dependent on cultivation of banana, pineapple and areca nuts; they will be left without livelihood if the lands are taken for the BSF firing range.

The PCC president said that the government has now decided to build the firing range here. There has been no consultation with the affected people. There has been no blueprint as to why anyone needs 2,700 acres of land for a firing range, he added.

“Also let’s not forget that forest areas and wildlife with many protected species will be in danger. We are not against the armed forces but we want transparency. Today there were no political flags or banners, we were there as one,” said DebBarman.

DebBarman also raised the slogan of “Poila Jati Ulo Pati” meaning (community first, then party) and urged the people of the community to stand together against the poor politics.

He added that the proposed firing range was earlier opposed in Manipur, Nagaland, and Mizoram and now they are planning to build the firing range here in Kanchanpur, North district, but not an inch of land would be given free of cost.

In the protest, rally former zilla parishad chairman Santi Ranjan Reang and secretaries of four social organisations of the Bru community were also present on Wednesday.

A slogan was also raised by the people saying, “Will give away life and blood but will not give the land for firing range.”

At present, 800 families live in about 2,700 acres of forest land and are mainly dependent on cultivation of areca nuts and different types of fruits and vegetables for their livelihood.

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