Of all the states in Northeast India, Tripura was most affected by the influx of people fleeing East Pakistan during partition in 1947 and the war which created Bangladesh in 1971. Indeed, the coming of these predominantly Bengali migrants more than doubled the population of the state and the indigenous Tripuri community was relegated from being the local majority to representing just a third of the population. These changes were accompanied by the loss of swathes of Tripuri land and contributed to the broader marginalisation of the community.1 In 1978, the first Tripuri armed groups emerged and launched a violent campaign against migrant communities and Indian security forces, calling for a ban on more immigration, increased tribal rights, and autonomy (or full independence) for Tripura.2 After a decade of conflict, the Indian government came to terms with the main Tripuri armed group in 1988, promising to reorganise the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) and limit migration in exchange for peace and the surrender of armed cadres.3 This Memorandum of Understanding bought a few years of peace in Tripura, but by 1992 two powerful Tripuri armed groups had emerged in opposition to the settlement: the All Tripura Tribal Force (later the All Tripura Tiger Force, ATTF) and the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), both of which called for the deportation of all people who had entered from East Pakistan/Bangladesh since 1949 and the complete independence of Tripura.4
Talks were held between the ATTF and the regional administration of Tripura in 1993, resulting in the Memorandum of Settlement.5 This agreement invested further powers in the TTAADC and offered more protections to the Tripuri community. This caused a split in the ATTF, with one faction abiding by the agreement and the other opting to continue the armed struggle alongside the NLFT.6 Despite the commitment of these two groups to achieving their goals though armed conflict continued, overall levels of violence in Tripura continued to decline, thanks in part to joint security operations to remove rear bases over the international border in Bangladesh and Myanmar and a well-funded government disarmament programme – by 2010, approximately 8,000 former militants had surrendered in exchange for cash payments.7 In 2004, a faction of the NLFT signed a Memorandum of Settlement with the government and the ATTF reduced its activities and indicated its desire to join the peace process.8 These declarations ended the fighting in Tripura for all intents and purposes. A complex peace process ensued with no firm resolution of the conflict, but in 2019 the remaining faction of the NLFT signed a peace agreement with the Government of India, formally ending the conflict in Tripura.9 Although a final settlement still needs to be negotiated, the fighting has ended.