Tripura CM’s ‘Maharaja’ jibe on Pradyot draws flaks, tribal body seeks apology
Tripura CM Manik Saha

Agartala: Tripura Leader of the Opposition Animesh Debbarma on Wednesday said that Chief Minister Dr Manik Saha had assured him and delegates of Roman Script for Kokborok Choba that a committee of experts would be constituted to look into the long pending dispute over the indigenous script.

Addressing a press conference at his official chamber shortly after meeting Chief Minister Dr Manik Saha, Debbarma said, “I have asked for the Chief Minister’s time through a letter dispatched from my office last Thursday. In my letter, it was mentioned that we want to discuss the roman script demand for the Kokborok. He had given us a patient hearing and at the end he said that a committee will be formed soon to hold elaborate discussions with all the stakeholders. Based on the findings of the committee, the matter will be resolved amicably.”

The row over the script demand was re-ignited after a letter from the Directorate of Kokborok and other minority languages reportedly advised the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to prepare Kokborok question papers for board exams only in Bengali script.

Since the medium of education in most of the CBSE-affiliated schools is English, question papers in Bengali script would naturally create hurdles for students. For the last few days, Twipra Students Federation (TSF) had been voicing its grievances against the letter and asking for its roll back.

Even the recently concluded assembly session witnessed heated arguments between the treasury and opposition bench over the script demand.

“Our point is very clear. Kokborok does not signify a community. This is an official language of the state and many non-tribal Bengali students are studying this subject to know the roots of this state. In the meeting that continued for hours, we tried to make the Chief Minister aware of the ground realities.

“Our demand is simple: let the CBSE prepare the questions paper in both Bengali and Roman script. If Tripura Board of Secondary Education can allow the students to write exams in both the scripts, why should students who had been studying in English medium be deprived of attempting the papers in the script they are more comfortable with,” said Debbarma.       

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Referring to the letter of Kokborok directorate, Debbarma said, “The Directorate has argued that this suggestion has been made based on the state government’s policy. When we asked about policy, we came to know there is no policy. In state government-run schools and universities, students are at the liberty to write in both the scripts. This prompted the directorate of Kokborok language to press for a specific script ahead of the CBSE Board exams. All these issues have been raised with the Chief Minister and we hope he would look into the matter positively.”

According to Debbarma, an RTI application revealed that 9,141 students out of total 9,147 Kokborok students in Tripura government colleges have attempted their papers in Roman Script. Only four students of the undergraduate courses wrote their exam in Bengali.

“The choice of students is giving a robust message to the government. Even three language commissions appointed to settle the issue have also found that Roman script is favored by the highest number of Kokborok speaking people,” said Debbarma.

MLA Swapna Debbarma, President of Roman Script for Kokborok Choba Bikash Rai Debbarma was also present at the press briefing and the meeting with the Chief Minister.   

Also Read | BJP-IPFT alliance will rule Tripura for 40-50 years: CM

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