Kokborok sop for rural polls

Agartala, Jan. 21 : Tripura tribal welfare minister Aghore Debbarma today said the government was exploring the possibility of introducing the study of indigenous Kokborok language as an optional subject in high schools.

The move, which follows the successful conclusion of the Borok-Kachari International Festival, is being seen as an attempt by the Tripura CPM to play on ethnic sentiments to retain its hold over the indigenous electorate, especially with the crucial elections in 527 village committees (counterparts of panchayats in the ADC areas) tentatively scheduled for next month.

“It was the Left Front government which provided official recognition to Kokborok as a language of the state on January 19, 1979 within a year of coming to power and it is the Left Front which will protect and promote the language. We are now exploring the feasibility of introducing the language as an optional subject at the high school level,” the senior CPM leader, who hails from the indigenous community, said at an official programme of the Autonomous District Council.

Debbarma’s announcement has evoked sharp reactions from indigenous intellectuals and authors.

Narendra Debbarma, the president of Indigenous Peoples’ Front of Tripura, said Kokborok was supposed to be the sole medium of instruction in junior basic schools in the ADC areas but this was not so, primarily because students had to switch over to Bengali in high school and college. He also pointed out that despite its recognition as the official language, Kokborok was not being used in administration and the Assembly.