The Telegraph
Tuesday , December 6 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tribal rift over set-up sequence
- Barla and Toppo differ on Gata

Siliguri, Dec. 5: Difference of opinion has cropped up among the adivasi leaders over the formation of Gata, whose proposed jurisdiction covers both the hills and the Terai and Dooars.

A section of the tribals under John Barla want the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration or GTA meant for the hills to be formed first and its name changed later to Gata. They said the GTA jurisdiction could extend over the entire Dooars and the Terai and later amended to form the Gorkhaland Adivasi Territorial Administration (Gata).

But another faction of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad led by state general secretary Tezkumar Toppo wants an Adivasi Territorial Administration (ATA) to be formed first for the Dooars and the Terai. Later it could be merged with the GTA to form Gata.

“The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha will surely want to bring the Terai and the Dooars under the GTA and we, too, are eager to join them so that we can get more autonomy for the people of the Dooars and the Terai. But we have to look after our interests as well. We think the ATA should be formed with the entire Dooars and Terai where tribals are in majority just as the GTA will be formed with the three hill subdivisions,” said Toppo today.

Once both the bodies are formed, the boards running these autonomous set-ups can bring resolutions to converge the GTA and ATA, leading to the creation of Gata, Toppo said. “This would protect the interests of both sides.”

Both Barla and Toppo along with three others had been showcaused by the state committee of the Parishad for joining hands with the Morcha.

The Morcha and the Parishad yesterday decided to form joint committees to campaign for Gata.

Barla today said Toppo’s proposal for forming Gata was “impractical”.

“We should work only in the logical direction and should not speak or demand something impractical. The GTA should be formed with the Terai and the Dooars as its territory along with the hills. The GTA board can be amended to form Gata, encompassing the hills and the Terai and Dooars,” Barla said.

The Parishad-Morcha campaign has already started in the gardens of the Terai and the Dooars, he added.

Minister Gautam Deb, who had earlier said the government would not consider any fresh proposals like Gata, today said he was banking on Mamata Banerjee to bring peace to the region.

“If the chief minister can restore peace in Jungle Mahal, we are confident that she can curb any tension or grievance brewing in the hills or in the Terai and the Dooars,” he said. “Any party or organisation can raise any demand. These have not reached us in a formal manner.”