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Parishad at MLAs’ door

June 25: Leaders of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad today said they would submit memorandums to all five MLAs in the Dooars urging them to take up the issue of Bimal Gurung’s campaigning in the region with the state government and prevent him from renewing an agitation on statehood.

Parishad leaders today said the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief has spoken about the inclusion of the Terai and Dooars in the GTA during campaigns and this might create tension in the region.

“We tried to draw the district administration’s attention by writing to them and by calling a strike as we were apprehensive of fresh trouble in the Dooars because of Gurung…. But the administration allowed him to carry on with his campaign and advocate inclusion of the Dooars in the GTA, a demand which we vehemently oppose,” said Rajesh Lakra, the general secretary of the north Bengal regional unit of the Parishad.

“We have decided to knock on the doors of all five MLAs of the Dooars, irrespective of their political affiliation, and submit memorandums. Our demand is that the MLAs should take up the issue in the Assembly and also with the functionaries concerned of the state to prevent the Morcha from using the rural polls as an opportunity to renew its agitation in the Dooars,” Lakra added.

The tribal outfit called a 12-hour-strike in the Dooars on June 23 to protest Gurung’s campaign in the Dooars.

Parishad leaders said that in the memorandums they had written the Morcha’s demand “contravenes the planning and development mooted by the state”.

“The state government has accepted that Dooars and Terai are backward regions and largely inhabited by tribals. The state has decided to form the Terai Dooars Development Council,” Lakra said.

“Morcha leaders, including Gurung, however, are speaking of the inclusion of Terai and Dooars in the GTA, which is against the state’s plan to expedite development in our areas. The state should intervene and stop the Morcha from campaigning in the Dooars.”

“Many Morcha supporters and leaders have joined other parties including Trinamul, which, is a considerable political force in Dooars much like the Left Front and the Congress. All these parties are against the inclusion of new territories in the GTA and don’t want partition of Bengal,” Parimal Lugoon, the north Bengal regional unit president of Parishad, said.

“We cannot sit idle and watch Morcha leaders restart their campaign which, three-four years back, had led to clashes across the Dooars. They are using the poll campaign as an opportunity.”

Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said: “Our leaders are campaigning like any other political party. It is for the administration to see that our rights are not infringed upon and the law and order situation remains peaceful.”