Voluntary groups rally
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Voluntary groups rally for peace in Tripura capital
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Voluntary groups rally for peace in Tripura capital

Several self-help groups participated in a peace march in Tripura capital Agartala on Saturday, calling for an end to separatist violence in Indias north east.

By Pinaki Das

Agartala, May 6 : Several self-help groups participated in a peace march in Tripura capital Agartala on Saturday, calling for an end to separatist violence in India's north east.

Representatives of 800 groups gathered under the banner of the Jana Unnayan Samiti Tripura (People's Uplift Group Tripura) and marched through the streets of Agartala to enlist public support for the fight against militancy in Tripura and other northeastern states.

"These are communities representing various tribes. We want to bring them together and bring home the message of peace. Unless and until we learn to live together, society cannot grow," said Robert Mathew, one of the founding members of Jana Unnayan Samiti Tripura.

These groups are seeking help to generate self-employment opportunities for educated youths in a bid to wean them away from underground rebels who are fighting New Delhi's rule.

Tripura has some 16,000 self-help groups, most of whom are active in diverse spheres.

"Here people from different communities- tribal, non-tribal, Debbarma, Reang, Darlong Bengali have participated to voices against separatist violence. We believe the key lies in unity, the way we employ this principle to cooperate for mutual benefit through economic activities as self help groups," said S.K. Darlong, a participant in the rally.

Landlocked Tripura is home to both tribals and Bengalis. Bengalis make up three-quarters of the state's total population of three million, and most of them arrived as refugees from Bangladesh after that country secured its independence in 1971.

There are two main separatist rebel groups, the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) and the All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF). Both want independence for the tribal areas of the state and removal of Bengali immigrants.

At the end of 2006, there was a sharp decline in violence in Tripura. Abductions have plummeted (542 in 2000 to 35 in 2006), according to state police as also killings. Some newspapers attributed the decline to rebel groups running out of funds and losing disenchanted members.

ANI

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