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Rebels bank on non-tribals for GTA

Siliguri, Nov. 16: Dissident Adivasi leaders from the north Bengal plains today said they would try to mobilise the support of other communities to back their demand that the Terai and the Dooars should be made part of the hills set-up.

One of the leaders, John Barla, said it did not matter if the state committee of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Parishad endorsed their demand or not.

“We want to make it clear that we are not concerned with the endorsement of the state committee. But we want the people of the Terai and the Dooars to support our proposal for the sake of development,” said Barla. He is among the five leaders from the region who had been showcaused by the state committee of the Adivasi outfit for saying in public that the region would benefit if it joined the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and become part of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).

“Leaders from each unit of our organisation here expressed support for us on November 6. Now we are talking to representatives of other communities to get their support to form the Gorkhaland Adivasi Territorial Administration (GATA).”

Barla said the showcaused leaders wanted to stay within the Parishad and move ahead with the agenda. But if the state committee continue to defy them, they will consult the central committee, bypassing the state leaders.

Barla, who has been removed as the president of the Terai-Dooars committee of the Parishad, said it was not possible for the state leaders sitting in Calcutta to “read the minds of people here”.

Sources in the outfit also said if the state committee took any drastic steps against the showcaused leaders, the dissidents would ask the central committee to consider the Dooars-Terai regional unit as a separate entity.

“The state committee is free to function in other districts of Bengal. If the central committee does not agree to our proposal, it would only lead to obliteration of the Parishad from north Bengal,” a senior leader of the region said.

Barla said it was not a question of signing an agreement with a political party (Morcha) “but a question of development, which can be expedited if this arrangement is made”. “The state leaders have failed to understand this spirit,” he said. “If any strong action is taken against us, we will again approach the people for their mandate.”

Parishad state president Birsa Tirkey said over the phone from Calcutta that he had received the replies to the showcause.

“We will consult legal experts to find out what action can be taken against them,” said Tirkey.

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