The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ghisingh dangles tribal carrot for SCs

Darjeeling, Feb. 3: Subash Ghisingh today called upon the Scheduled Castes of the Gorkha community to convert into tribals, in an effort to seek a way out of the present political imbroglio.

The GNLF has been hard pressed to take a clear political stand on the status of the Scheduled Castes in the new dispensation to be set up in the hills under the Sixth Schedule.

While the GNLF has been maintaining that all non-tribals should be converted into tribals, it has so far failed to find a solution to the demand for seat reservation in the new council made by the Scheduled Castes.

Ghisingh's talk on the issue at Capitol Hall here clearly indicated that he was concerned about the growing controversy and sought to quell dissenting voices by attacking the existing caste system. 'The four categories ' Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishnavis and Sudras ' created by Ved Vyasa in Hinduism was meant for deolok (the place where the gods reside) and not for us. Nepal was wrong in adopting the structure and we too should not follow this as it does not suit us,' he said.

The GNLF leader's speech hinted that he was for total abolition of the current social structure after it has become obvious that the community is getting divided along tribal lines.

Taking a dig at the claims that the Scheduled Tribes enjoy a lot of privileges, Ghisingh said: 'I don't think that all Dukpas (STs) in the hills have become rich. Many of them are still selling thupkas. (At present), the common tribal enjoys very few privileges. Those are for the smart and educated handfuls.'

According to Ghisingh, the Sixth Schedule will 'safeguard the tribal character of the Gorkhas' and people should not clamour for Scheduled Tribe status just for the sake of the privileges. This, of course, did not stop him from wooing the Schedule Castes into accepting a new identity.

The politician in him, however, was aware of the sensitive nature of the issue and repeatedly maintained that the special status will not infringe upon the benefits enjoyed by the Scheduled Castes. 'All Gorkhas are tribals. There are no high or low castes. It is time for Scheduled Castes to get converted into tribals. This is, however, just a proposal,' he said.

Ghisingh was also critical of the new identity that the Tamangs were trying to create for themselves. He was referring to Lochar ' the festival observed by the Tamangs on the lines of Losar, the celebration of Tibetan New Year. The GNLF leader warned the Tamangs of dire consequences if they copied Tibetans, who are Buddhists.

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