Agartala: Bikram Bahadur Jamatia, who had played an important role in promoting an indigenous people’s ‘movement’ against the bloody insurgency which had hit this Northeastern state is being honoured by the Padma Shri award in the social work category.
Bikram Bahadur had worked worked to build up opinion among tribals against the second phase of insurgency in Tripura during late 1990’s.
As Acra (head) of Jamatia Hoda, an apex Socio-cultural-religious body of the Jamatias, he used to visit militancy infested tribal areas ignoring threat and motivated villagers to stand up against the insurgency pointing out that the fighting had brought a virtual end to development work in tribal areas.
The banned outfits- National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) and All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) and other small insurgent groups had fanned out in tribal areas of Tripura, bringing terror in their wake. The Centre had to send Army to the northeastern state to tackle the insurgency and several police stations were brought under the Disturbed Area Act.
Jamatia, who has been promoting indigenous faith, cultural and heritage for decades, had played the role of ambassador too against alleged conversion in the state’s hilly areas.
“I am overwhelmed by the news that I was chosen for the Padma Shri award by the Central government for works that I have rendered to the society for many decades from now”, the 86-year old social reformer told PTI on Thursday over telephone.
Jamatia lives in his native village- Moharcherra, a village under Teliamura subdivision of Khowai district.
“I was not aware of my nomination. It was District Magistrate (DM), Khowai, DK Chakama, who telephoned me on Wednesday night and informed me of the development. At his invitation, I joined the Republic Day programme organised by the district administration on Thursday as the chief guest”, he said.
“It is really a proud moment not only for me but also for the people of my state. I humbly thank the central government for the move”, he said adding he will continue to work for protection of indigenous faith, culture and tradition in the state.
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Jamatia has also been considered instrumental in adoption of customary law for indigenous tribes in the northeastern state.
Former Minister NC Debbarma was also chosen for the prestigious award posthumously this year for his contribution in the field of ‘public affairs’.
Chief Minister Manik Saha, Tribal Welfare Minister Rampada Jamatia and former Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for choosing Bikram Bahadur Jamatia and NC Debbarma for the prestigious award.
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