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Agartala: A group of ex-militants have threatened to resume persistent protests across Tripura for being deprived of the benefits supposed to be accrued upon them as per the peace accord.

Deprived Returnees Movement Committee (DMRC) has also announced that on June 5 a national highway blockade would be staged at Assam-Agartala national highway which shall continue indefinitely if their demands are not met.

Addressing a press conference at Agartala Press Club on Monday, DMRC general secretary Amrit Reang said the central and the state governments have made a bunch of promises at the time they laid down arms in search of a dignified mainstream life. But, all these promises turned out to be empty as a large chunk of the returnees are deprived of the benefits.

“All these things are on pen and paper only. On several occasions, we spoke to senior officials and even handed over drafted memorandums as well as explaining the hardships of our people. But all these turned out to be futile exercise as we see no positive step on behalf of the state government,” said Reang.  

In October last year, the DMRC group had met senior officials of the Tribal Welfare department. During the meeting, the representatives highlighted all the crucial points pertinent to the extension of benefits to deprived militants but nothing had been done. Reang further alleged terming the delay as a “deliberate attempt of depriving us”.  

Expressing disappointment over the role of state government, he said, “We have staged protests earlier also; every time the top officials try to placate our grievances with assurances that are never kept.”

Reacting to the issue, Tripura Tribal Welfare Department Director Vishal Kumar said, “All the recognized returnees have been given the benefits assured in the agreements. There are two large groups who now claim that they also deserve to be treated as ex-militants and all the benefits should be given to them as well.”

“But, they are neither recognized by the Central government or the state government as ex-militants. Those who are leading the protests are verified ex-militants but without any documented proof, it is impossible to launch a welfare scheme for such a large population at this point,” he added.

According to the director, the total number of aspirant beneficiaries for the special benefits is above 23,000 people scattered across various parts of the state. “As per the eligibility criteria, they can be absorbed into existing schemes of the state and central government but what they are asking for is impossible,” he said.

The returnees organization has demanded free distribution of power tillers, abolishment of pending cases, benefits under livestock rearing schemes, etc.

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