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Tripura State Rifles a bone of contention between MHA and state govt

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By Sujit Chakraborty
Agartala, May 29 (Ajit Weekly News) A tug of war has been going on between the Tripura government and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) over the withdrawal of one battalion of elite Tripura State Rifles (TSR), posted in Delhi in November 2019.

A senior Tripura Home Department official said that since January this year, the state government in four separate letters requested the MHA to return the TSR to Tripura, but the Central Ministry did not respond positively.

Tripura Home Department’s Deputy Secretary D. Kilikdar in his fourth letter to the MHA, said: “One battalion of TSR (around 1,000 personnel) has been deployed with Delhi Police since November 20, 2019 for law and order duty. But due to our own requirement of the force in Tripura, the state government has decided to withdraw the force deployed with Delhi Police.”

“Kindly release this battalion at an early date for duty with the government of Tripura,” says the letter, available with Ajit Weekly News.

A state Home Department official, on the condition of anonymity, told Ajit Weekly News that, out of 12 battalions, one battalion of TSR now providing security to the South Eastern Coalfields Limited in Chattisgarh, one battalion to the Oil and Natural Gas Company in Tripura and several companies (with 125 to 130 jawans in each company) to Tripura Natural Gas Company, ONGC Thermal Power Plant (at Palatana in southern Tripura), and various gas drilling organisations.

“Over 500 TSR jawans are providing security to the Ministers and VVIPs. Very inadequate numbers of TSR personnel are now engaged in the law and order and counter insurgency related duties, for which the force was created in 1984,” the official said.

Besides providing security during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, the India Reserve (IR) battalions of TSR had earlier performed election duties in more than 18 states including Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Jharkhand, Haryana and to the northeastern states, to provide security during the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

Trained in counter-insurgency operations, the TSR troopers have demonstrated excellent performance in Tripura in taming the four-and-a-half decades old terrorism in the northeastern state.

In the IR battalion, 75 per cent of its personnel are from Tripura, while the remaining are from across the country.

The TSR has 12 battalions, of which nine are IR battalions.

The Union Home Ministry has recently sanctioned two more IR battalions of TSR and the Tripura government has completed the process of recruitment of 1,433 riflemen for the two fresh TSR battalions and they are now under training.

“The IR battalions can be posted anywhere in the country as and when the Union Home Ministry asks the concerned state government,” a TSR commandant, unwilling to be named, told Ajit Weekly News.

Historian and writer Pannalal Roy, who wrote many books on royal history of Tripura, said that since the regime of king Birchandra Manikya Bahadur (1862 to 1896), the police and military force had been given an initial shape.

“When the British domination and supremacy started on the erstwhile kings in 1761, the kings had to take permission from the British ruler to purchase or to collect even a rifle.

“However, during the governance of Tripura’s last king Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur (1923-1947), the police and military force turned into an organised force,” Roy told Ajit Weekly News.

At the end of several hundred year-rule by 184 kings, on October 15, 1949, the erstwhile princely state of Tripura came under the control of the Indian government after a merger agreement was signed between regent Maharani Kanchan Prabha Devi and the Indian Governor General.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at sujit.c@ians.in)

–Ajit Weekly News

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