People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 26

July 06 , 2008



Rail Enters Agartala after Six Decades of Struggle

ON 29 June 2008 at 3.05 pm, the rail engine linking Ambassa to Agartala covering a stretch of 68 kilometres, finally made its way into the Agartala station, marking the success of six decade long struggle of the democratic movement of the state.

It was like a dream come true, a journey being completed. The Agartala station wore a festive look from the morning itself with thousands of people of every age and various walks of life gathering in a large number to witness a moment which has now become an inseparable part of the history of this tiny state’s leap forward towards becoming a modern developed state worth comparing itself with any other developed state of India.

                    With independence and partition of the country, Tripura was cut off from the rail connectivity it had  with the rest of India through Bangladesh. This made the state land locked with only the national highway 44 serving as a chicken neck corridor of linkage with the mainland. From the year 1952 itself, Tripura had been demanding rail connectivity with the rest of the nation. In 1952, in the first elected parliament of the nation, the two communist MPs of the state comrade Dasaratha Dev  and comrade Biren Dutta for the first time raised the demand that  Tripura be connected with rail immediately. The Congress led successive central governments never paid attention to this  justified demand of Tripura. The Congress led governments of Tripura too had the same apathetic attitude. After a series of mass movements, the Janata Party government at the centre in 1977 gave sanction for the Dharmanagar- Kumarghat rail project. After 1978, when Left front led by the CPI(M) assumed office in Tripura, the struggle for rail gained momentum. There were series of movements for rail and industrialisation. The assembly adopted resolutions in favour of the demand and the CPI(M) MPs vociferously raised the demand in the parliament. In 1986, a student and youth delegation led by the present chief minister of Tripura, Manik Sarkar marched to Delhi to raise the demand for rail and industrialisation. The then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi however could not spare more than two minutes of time to listen to the burning demand of Tripura. At last during the V P Singh government’s tenure rail finally reached Kumarghat. Agartala was still a long way to go.

                      In 1996, the H D Deve Gowda government sanctioned the Kumarghat – Agartala rail project. The Congress party of the state had never supported  the demand of rail on an amusing  plea that rail means encouraging trade unions  and it means strengthening of CPI(M). So, when finally the Agartala project was sanctioned some of the news papers faithful to Congress mocked this achievement as a toy train being gifted to befool the people of the state. However proving all malicious campaign to be baseless, by 2003 rail reached Manughat. However the pace of progress of work was yet to be increased. In 2005, the Kumarghat- Agartala project was declared as a national project due to the constant pressure of the Left parties. On 26 January 2008, rail engine reached Ambassa. And after five months and three days from  that date,  the rail engine  finally reached Agartala.

                       Apart from the lakhs of people who witnessed this historic moment, the Northern Frontier Railway officials too were happy to complete the project. Deputy chief engineer in charge of the project highly lauded the all-round support they received from the state government. He particularly praised the manner in which the state had arranged for dedicated security in the working site. He expressed hope that by 15 August 2008, regular passenger service can be started on this route.

               The leaders of the democratic movement were elated at this historic moment. CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and chief minister  Manik Sarkar said that the centre took a lot of time in realising this burning demand of the state. He hoped that the Agartala - Sabroom railway project will soon get underway and the conversion of the rail track from metre guage to broad guage will be completed fast. CPI(M) state secretary Baidyanath Majumdar termed it as the fruit of the long and consistent struggle of the people . He hoped railway line will pave way for rapid growth in industrialisation and provide opportunities of employment for the people. Left Front convenor Khagen Das termed the  day as a historic one. He congratulated the people for the struggle they had waged and the Northern Frontier railway persons and security forces who have made the dream come true.

                                 With rail coming to Agartala and the project Sabroom about to start, the people of Tripura are looking forward to the day when they will be able to travel from Agartala itself to any corner of the country. Once Sabroom is rail linked,  the Chittagong port will be only 74 kilometres away, which will open up Tripura to the whole of South East Asia, making this land locked state the gate way to the south East Asia.

               Such was the enthusiasm of the people that frequent raining and even a long waiting could not lower their zeal on 29 June. The moment the sound of whistle was heard people exploded in sheer joy and ecstasy of success. The scene was almost the same in every station the engine touched on its way from Ambassa to Agartala. All over through the 68 kilometre stretch, people could be seen waiting eagerly to have a glimpse of the rail engine. Finally when the engine reached Agartala station, many could not control tears. This itself speaks of the extent of happiness of the people who under the banner of CPI(M), Left front and other democratic organisations have struggled for 56 years for this day to come.