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Parishad leaders bury hill hatchet

Siliguri, June 10: The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad has unanimously decided not to back the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s agitation for Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh and to continue with the movement to achieve Sixth Schedule status for the Dooars and the Terai.

Overriding the state leadership’s decision, some office-bearers of the Parishad’s Dooars and Terai committee had openly backed the Morcha’s proposal to include the Adivasi-dominated areas in the state the hill outfit wants. Even yesterday, the differences between the state and the regional leaders were palpable at a public meeting called by the Parishad at Banarhat, 75km from here. However, after the meeting, all the leaders went into a huddle and decided to bury the hatchet.

“It is true that some regional leaders had wanted to support Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh. But after yesterday’s discussions, there has been a consensus that we will not support the Morcha movement. The Parishad will continue with its agitation for Sixth Schedule status for the Dooars and the Terai,” said Birsa Tirkey, the state president of the party.

Asked whether the regional leaders had swallowed their words, an office-bearer of the Dooars-Terai regional unit said: “We consented to the state committee’s decision to have no truck with the Morcha. Whatever the party president has said is our opinion.”

Morcha leaders, after facing stiff opposition from the tribal people over the inclusion of the Dooars and the Terai in Gorkhaland, had renamed the state as Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh and had approached the Parishad for support. The Morcha’s move created confusion in the Parishad, forcing state leaders like Tirkey to rush to north Bengal and thrash out the differences.

Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha, said the matter would be discussed at his party’s central committee meeting. “We are yet to get the details of the Parishad’s decision. If the tribals in the plains refuse to stand by us, we have to discuss the matter at our central committee.”

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