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Lepchas rally for language - Cry for mother tongUe in classrooms

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OUR CORRESPONDENT   |   Kalimpong   |   Published 11.10.04, 12:00 AM

Lepchas rally for language

Kalimpong, Oct. 11: Lepchas from all over the district today participated in a rally to demand recognition and introduction of the Lepcha language in schools and colleges in Darjeeling.

The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association had organised the rally and Bhasha Sammelan.

Members of the body also submitted a memorandum highlighting their demands to the dignitaries and senior officials present on the occasion.

The rally, which started around 10.30 am, saw the participants raising slogans asking for the recognition of the Lepcha language as it wound its through the the town.

The rallyists stopped near the Kalimpong subdivisional office, where they also gave the subdivisional officer a copy of the memorandum.

It finally came to an end at lower Bom Bustee where the Bhasha Sammelan was held.

Scheduled Tribes Commission chairman Kunwar Singh, Andhra Pradesh MP D. Rabindra Naik and West Bengal Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad president Birsa Tirkey were among the prominent invitees.

The association?s general secretary, L.S. Tamsang, said: ?The Lepcha tribe is an intrinsic part of India, but the government has failed to treat us on a par with other citizens of the country. Ever since India gained Independence, we have been demanding recognition of our language. But the government has not taken any step in this direction. Anthropologists have said that the Lepcha language is one of the oldest and richest in the country, but no one is taking steps to save the language, which is in danger of dying.?

Tamsang added that the Lepcha language, which has a rich oral tradition, needed to be preserved to ensure that the Lepchas survive and thrive.

?Survival of the Lepcha race is directly linked to the survival of the language,? he remarked.

The association also justified its demand saying the constitution has clearly mentioned that the state and local authorities should provide facilities for education in one?s mother tongue for linguistic minorities.

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