Members of Deprived Returnees Movement Committee addressing press conference at Agartala Press Club.

Agartala: The proposed highway blockade by the Deprived Returnees Movement Committee was postponed after Tripura Chief Minister Manik Saha called the protesting ex-rebels for a meeting on June 13.

General Secretary of the Deprived Returnees Movement Committee said that the protest, which was supposed to take place on June 5, has been postponed to June 21.

“Chief Minister Manik Saha has given us time for a meeting on June 13 next. After getting the call from the CM’s office, we decided to postpone our protest. We are eager to hear from the Chief Minister and the solution he offers to redress our grievances,” Reang said during a press conference at Agartala Press Club.

According to Reang, if the state government refuses to accept their five-point charter of demands, they will hold a road blockade on the National Highway.

“We have high hopes from the Chief Minister as the Tribal Welfare Department has practically failed in giving us any positive assurance so far,” said Reang.

Meanwhile, top officials of the Tribal Welfare Department said that most of the people demanding special benefits as surrendered militants are neither recognised as militants nor sympathisers by the state police or the central agencies.

“If we don’t find any records, it is impossible for us to fulfil their demands. The majority of the surrendered militants who are now demanding special treatment are not listed. Anybody can claim, but without proper documents, government offices can’t take any step,” said Director Tribal Welfare Department Dr Vishal Kumar.

Reacting to the issue, Reang said that it was the fallout of the lack of coordination between Central agencies and the State Police.

“Between 2001 to 2004, militants of several different banned groups comprising NLFT, ATTF, BMCP etc. laid down their arms before the central agencies and state police. But, we saw that the records of militants were mismatched in the later years. Our sources said that surrender operations carried out by Central agencies were not accepted by the state police, which ultimately left hundreds of ex-militants deprived. They are now being termed ‘non-accepted’ returnees in our language. We have a list of 859 people who were directly involved with the insurgency,” Reang told EastMojo.

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