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regular-article-logo Saturday, 22 June 2024

Hill body flags Scheduled Tribe tag delay, blames BJP

All India Gorkha 11, Jan-Jati Mahasangha wants BJP to get bill on issue passed in Parliament at upcoming monsoon session

Bireswar Banerjee Siliguri Published 25.04.23, 05:56 AM
Representatives of the All India Gorkha 11, Jan-Jati Mahasangha at the news meet in Siliguri on Monday

Representatives of the All India Gorkha 11, Jan-Jati Mahasangha at the news meet in Siliguri on Monday Picture by Passang Yolmo

An apolitical body fighting for the conferment of Scheduled Tribe status to 11 communities in the hills has accused the BJP of being "insincere" in meeting their longstanding demand.

The All India Gorkha 11, Jan-Jati Mahasangha wants the BJP to get the bill on the issue passed in Parliament at the upcoming monsoon session.

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Representatives of the Mahasangha, which has been working on the issue for a while, said they backed the BJP candidates who contested from the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat in three back-to-back elections since 2009 with the hope that the Centre would grant ST status to the 11 communities.

“We have made a number of communications with the Union tribal affairs ministry but were told that the issue is still under consideration. Both the BJP and its local MP here seem to be insincere in meeting our principal demands. They have simply come up with assurances so far,” said Andrew Gurung, general secretary of the organisation.

Raju Bista, the Darjeeling MP, should table the issue in Parliament in the monsoon session along with their principal demand, that of the state of Gorkhaland, he said.

In the hills, 11 communities, namely Bhujel, Gurung, Mangar, Newar, Jogi, Khas, Rai, Sunuwar, Thami, Yakka (Dewan) and Dhimal have been demanding ST status for years now.

In 2014, the Bengal government sent a proposal to the Centre, followed by a reminder in 2016.

“However, the Centre has not made any move so far. This is unacceptable,” said a representative of the Mahasangha.

Kanchan Gurung, the organisation’s president, said they were not ready to wait for next year’s Lok Sabha polls.

“Time and again, the BJP leadership has come up with promises that these important demands of ours will be considered with due importance. But there hasn’t been an inch of progress, be it on separate statehood or ST status. Let us be clear that if our demands are not met ahead of the elections, we will not let anybody exploit our sentiments anymore,” Gurung said.

Raju Bista, the Darjeeling MP, when contacted for his comments on the issue, said that he was not aware of any such news meet.

Anandamoy Barman, an MLA and the BJP’s Siliguri (organisational) district committee chief, however, spoke on the issue.

“The demand to confer ST status to 11 hill communities is under consideration of the central government. There are certain technical issues and the matter has to go through certain processes. We want to make it clear that the Centre is sincerely working on the issue. Our party is well aware of its commitments,” Barman said.

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