The Kamtapur Progressive Party (KPP), a political force known for its considerable clout among the Rajbanshi population of north Bengal, has renewed its demand for a separate Kamtapur state.
On Wednesday, hundreds of supporters of the party assembled at Surya Sen Park in Siliguri and took out a rally. They walked up to the SDO at Hill Cart Road and submitted a 15-point charter of demands addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
For decades now, a number of political parties and organisations like the KPP and the Greater Cooch Behar Peoples’ Association have seeking a separate state with north Bengal districts and some contiguous areas of Assam.
Budharu Roy, a vice-president of the KPP, on Wednesday claimed that Rajbanshis constitute the majority of the population of this region.
“We have been demanding a separate state of Kamtapur as around 78 per cent of the population speaks in Kamtapuri (Rajbanshi) language in north Bengal and in some adjoining areas of Assam. That is why we have flagged the issue again and have appealed to the Prime Minister to meet the longstanding demand first raised in 1969. We also want the Centre to recognise the Kamtapuri (Rajbanshi) language and include it under the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution,” he said.
In the past couple of years, this is the first time that the KPP hit the streets with its old demand.
Atul Roy, the founder president of the KPP who died in 2021, used to hold regular political activities to flag the demand. His movement prompted chief minister Mamata Banerjee to announce the recognition of the language by the state and set up a development board and two language academies. Roy was included in one of the language academies.
The Centre, however, is yet to recognise the Kamtapuri (Rajbanshi) language.
Other demands placed by the KPP include an AIIMS in Alipurduar or Cooch Behar, a central university in Jalpaiguri district, a defence academy in the region and the Narayani regiment (after the Narayani Sena, the royal troops of then princely state of Cooch Behar) in the armed forces.
“We will wait till November. If the Centre doesn’t address our demands, we will intensify our political activities starting with a public meeting in Siliguri,” added the KPP leader.
“Supporters from across north Bengal and lower Assam will attend the meeting,” said the KPP leader.