National Liberation Front of Tripura
|National Liberation Front of Tripura|
|Participant in the Insurgency in Northeast India|
Flag of the National Liberation Front of Tripura
|Active||1989 – present|
Utpanna Tripura †
Mukul Debbarma †
|Area of operations||Tripura, India|
550 (Biswamohan faction)|
250 (Nayanbasi faction)
|Opponents||Government of Tripura|
The NLFT seeks to secede from India and establish an independent Tripuri state, and is an active participant in the Insurgency in Northeast India. The NLFT manifesto says that they want to expand what they describe as the Kingdom of God and Jesus Christ in Tripura.
The Baptist Church of Tripura was initially set up by missionaries from New Zealand in the 1940s. Despite their efforts, even until the 1980s, only a few thousand people in Tripura had converted to Christianity. In the aftermath of one of the worst ethnic riots, the NLFT was born in 1989 with the backing of the Baptist Church of Tripura. Since then, the NLFT has been advancing its cause through armed rebellion. In its constitution, the organisation claims to represent the indigenous population which it claims has been marginalised by "the subjugation policy of imperialist Hindustani (India)"; its constitution makes no mention of any specific religion and claims to extend membership to "any person irrespective of caste, sex or creed".
The NLFT has been described as engaging in terrorist violence motivated by their Christian beliefs. The NLFT is listed as a terrorist organisation in the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002. The state government contends that the Baptist Church of Tripura supplies arms and gives financial support to the NLFT. In April 2000, according to the state government, the secretary of the Noapara Baptist Church in Tripura, Nagmanlal Halam, was arrested with explosives and confessed that for two years he had been buying explosives for the NLFT. In 2000, the NLFT threatened to kill Hindus celebrating the religious festival of Durga Puja. At least 20 Hindus in Tripura have been killed by the NLFT in two years for resisting forced conversion to Christianity. A leader of the Jamatia tribe, Rampada Jamatia, said that armed NLFT militants were forcibly converting tribal villagers to Christianity, which he said was a serious threat to Hinduism. It is believed that as many as 5,000 tribal villagers were forcibly converted from 1999 to 2001. These forcible conversions to Christianity, sometimes including the use of "rape as a means of intimidation," were noted by academics outside of India in 2007.
In early 2000, 16 Bengali Hindus were killed by the NLFT at Gourangatilla. On May 20, 2000, the NLFT killed 25 Bengali Hindus at the Bagber refugee camp. In August 2000, a tribal Hindu spiritual leader, Shanti Kali, was shot dead by about ten NLFT guerrillas who said it wanted to convert all people in the state to Christianity. In December 2000, Labh Kumar Jamatia, a religious leader of the state's second largest Hindu group, was kidnapped by the NLFT, and found dead in a forest in Dalak village in southern Tripura. According to police, rebels from the NLFT wanted Jamatia to convert to Christianity, but he refused. A local Marxist tribal leader, Kishore Debbarma, was clubbed to death in Tripura's Sadar by militants from the Biswamohan faction of the NLFT in May 2005.
In 2001, there were 826 reported terrorist attacks in Tripura, in which 405 people lost their lives and 481 kidnappings were made by the NLFT and related organisations such as the Christian All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTP). Nagmanlal Halam, secretary of the Noapara Baptist Church in Tripura, was arrested for and confessed, under torture from police, to providing munitions and financial aid to the NLFT from 1998 until 2000.
The BBC reported in 2005 that independent investigations as well as confessions from surrendered members showed that the NLFT had been making and selling pornography to finance their activities. This includes DVDs of pornographic films made by the group with tribal men and women kidnapped and forced to participate in sex acts while being filmed. The movies are dubbed into various languages and sold illegally throughout the region for a profit. Statements from former members and one report state that the NLFT has a history of sexually abusing tribal women.
According to the Institute for Conflict Management, approximately 90% of the NLFT's administration are Christians.
In the wake of the expulsion of Biswamohan Debbarma and Nayanbasi Jamatiya, the NLFT divided into two factions in February 2001.
Cited causes of internal conflicts include the reluctance of Biswamohan Debbarma's Central Executive Committee to nominate Joshua Debbarma as the King of ‘Tripura Kingdom’; misappropriation of funds by senior leaders; lavish lifestyles led by the senior leadership; and forcible conversion of tribal cadres/civilians to Christianity.
Other leaders of the original NLFT included ‘Vice President’ Kamini Debbarma, ‘Publicity Secretary’ Binoy Debbarma, ‘Chief of Army’ Dhanu Koloi, and ‘Finance Secretary’ Bishnu Prasad Jamatiya.
The Biswamohan faction (NLFT/BM) is currently headed by Biswamohan Debbarma.
Upon the surrender of Mantu Koloi, second in command, he requested that Biswamohan Debbarma and Ranjit Debbarma engage in talks with the Government of India to resolve the crisis, but both leaders vowed to fight on.
The Nayanbasi faction (NLFT/NB) was led by Nayanbasi Jamatiya until 2004, when it peacefully entered into a Memorandum of Settlement with India.
- Christian terrorism
- Insurgency in Northeast India
- Separatist movements of India
- Insurgent groups in Northeast India
- Tripura Baptist Christian Union
- Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura
- List of terrorist organisations in India
- Bhaumik, Subir (18 April 2000). "'Church backing Tripura rebels'". BBC News.
- "The Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002". Republic of India. South Asia Terrorism Portal. 2002.
- "National Liberation Front of Tripura". South Asia Terrorism Portal.
- "Constitution of The National Liberation Front Of Tripura". South Asia Terrorism Portal.
- Adam, Jeroen; De Cordier, Bruno; Titeca, Kristof; Vlassenroot, Koen (2007). "In the Name of the Father? Christian Terrorism in Tripura, Northern Uganda, and Ambon". Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. 30 (11): 963–83. doi:10.1080/10576100701611288.
- "Separatist group bans Hindu festivities". BBC News. 2 October 2000.
- "Tribals unite against conversions in Tripura". rediff.com. 2 August 2001.
- "19 killed in Tripura massacre rerun". Telegraph India. 21 May 2000.
- "Hindu preacher killed by Tripura rebels". BBC News. 28 August 2000.
- "Tripura tribal leader killed". BBC News. 27 December 2000.
- "Rebels kill Tripura CPM leader". Telegraph India. 17 May 2005.
- "Conversions with foreign fund". organiser.in. 10 April 2005. Archived from the original on 3 May 2005.
- Bhaumik, Subir (27 August 2005). "India rebels 'making porn films'". BBC News.
- Bhaumik, Subir (6 May 2004). "Tripura rebels surrender". BBC News.
- "Policy for Solving Insurgency Problem in NE" (Press release). Press Information Bureau. 18 February 2009.