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Controversy hits airport rechristening
Published on 3 Jul. 2010 11:07 PM IST
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Controversy surrounds the unanimous resolution in the Assembly on renaming Agartala airport after Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, with the associates of royal family in Tripura threatening a movement.
When the proposal for rechristening the airport was put forward, the royal family demanded to dedicate it to the memory of Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya. It was learnt that he designed the airport and took initiatives to build it during World War II. The controversy was kicked off last week when both the treasury bench and Opposition accepted Congress legislator Sudip Roy Barman’s proposal to rename Agartala airport after Tagore. Reacting to the development today, a royal family associate and leading media researcher, Sunil Kalai, felt that it had became a chaotic issue among all sections of society, reported UNI.
On one hand, Tagore was known to have shared a close association with the royal family of Tripura for four decades. He even visited Tripura seven times between 1899 and 1926. On the other hand, Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya permitted the United States Army Air Force Tenth Air Force 4th Combat Cargo Group to use the airport for flying C-46 Commando transport aircraft over Myanmar. ‘’It used to be a point where the unit air-dropped supplies and ammunition to the advancing allied forces on the ground,’’ Kalai informed. Kalai batted for naming the airport after Bir Bikram, saying,’’It is not merely for the reason that he built the airport.
He was the architect of modern Tripura. He is the one and only option when it comes to naming the airport. Otherwise the people’s sentiment will be hurt.’’ ‘’The identity of Agartala has not yet been established at the national level. At least people will come to know about the place for the airport.’’ Kalai also maintained that Tagore obtained support from the rulers of Tripura ‘Manikya dynasty’ while establishing Santiniketan, a fact which was allegedly not recognized.

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