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Limbus march for council

Siliguri, Jan. 6: Around 1,500 Limbus held a demonstration here today to demand a development council for the community, on the lines of the one for the Lepchas, under the state government.

The community members also submitted a memorandum, addressed to the chief minister, to Siliguri additional district magistrate P.T. Sherpa to press for the council.

“We Limbus are the most backward tribal community in the hills and the plains. Much like the Lepchas, we also want a separate Limbu Tribal Development Council so that development of our community can be expedited,” said Dinesh Subba, the spokesperson for the Yakthung Shong Choomvo or Limbu Tribal Association of West Bengal.

According to him, around 1.5 lakh Limbus live in the Darjeeling hills, Dooars and Terai, while the total population of the community across India is five lakh.

The Limbus have their own language (Limbu), culture and customs. The community wants the council to protect their unique identity also.

“We want the state government to form the development council like the one for the Lepchas. During the chief minister’s visit to the hills on October 23 last year, we had met her and submitted a memorandum to her seeking the council. She had assured us that the demand would be considered. But almost three months have passed and there has been no initiative from the state’s side. So, we submitted another memorandum addressed to the chief minister today,” said Subba.

The Limbus, he said, wanted the council to be formed under the state government and not the GTA Sabha.

“As thousands of Limbus also live in areas outside the GTA’s jurisdiction, we want the council to be formed under the state government. If it is formed under the GTA, it can help only the Limbus living in the GTA area,” said Subba.

Other hill communities, Tamangs, Bhutias and Sherpas had also sought development bodies under the state government. GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung had said on December 15 that he was not averse to development bodies being formed under the state government for the hill tribes. Before that, he had insisted that such councils must be created only under the GTA.