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Gorkha union protests extortion

Kokrajhar, March 12: The All Assam Gorkha Student’s Union today out a procession to protest against rise in incidents of extortion and harassment in Gorkha-dominated areas of Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD), especially along the Indo-Bhutan border areas.

Around 5,000 protesters with banners, festoons and placards raised slogans demanding a stop to extortion, kidnapping and killings.

They marched through the streets of Kokrajhar town starting from Raasmela ground to the deputy commissioner’s office.

A memorandum was submitted to the Assam governor and the home minister in this regard.

The Union said a few men, identifying themselves as NDFB cadres, were threatening people in Gorkha-dominated villagers, demanding huge amounts of money from poor villagers.

“It is a matter of serious concern that unidentified people are serving extortion notices in the name of NDFB to Gorkha villagers, who have been living in the BTAD since decades, especially along the Indo-Bhutan border areas,” the union said in the memorandum.

It said extortion notices had been served in villages like Saralpara, Ultapani, Jharbari, Khalashi, Patgaon and Athiabari in Kokrajhar district.

In Chirang district, extortionists were active in Shantipur, Runikhata, Malivita, Patabari, Amteka and Kailamaila. Incidents have been reported from interior regions of Baksa like Nikashi, Darangga, Tamulpur and Nagirjuli and in many villages of Udalguri district as well.

“The villagers are getting death threats to pay the amount. They are spending sleepless nights,” said union president Dimbeswar Upadhayay. The union demanded a stop to extortion and harassment of innocent Gorkhas in the NDFB’s name.

“We (Gorkhas) are a docile community. We want to live peacefully with all communities in the BTC. But it is a matter of great concern that some goons have been serving extortion notices demanding huge amounts of money in the name of NDFB and giving death threats unless an amount is paid,” Upadhaya said.

The union criticised the government saying, “It is unfortunate that the state government and BTC administration have failed to safeguard the Gorkha community from militant groups.”

The union alleged that the extortion drive is a conspiracy by a section to evict Gorkhas from the BTC area.

“It could also be a ploy to create communal disturbances among the communities which have been living together for centuries,” a local leader said.

It also urged the government to put a stop to harassment of Gorkha people and take necessary action to restore peace and harmony in the BTAD region.