Representatives of the Nasya Sheikh community or Rajbanshi Muslims have expressed ire at the Mamata Banerjee government, alleging that no funds have been sanctioned for the development board formed by the state one-and-a-half years back.
Around 35 lakh Nasya Sheikhs stay in north Bengal.
“It is disappointing that the board has not taken any initiative to carry out community development and socio-economic development of the Nasya Sheikhs. Unlike other communities which have received benefits from the boards, both in the plains and in hills, members of our community, most of whom are poor, are yet to get such benefits,” said Bazley Rehman, a member of the board and the president of the Nasya Sheikh Unnayan Parishad, a community-based organisation.
Last year, ahead of the Assembly elections, the community demanded a development board from the state government and asserted that they would otherwise not stand by Trinamul.
This made the state government act. On February 22 last year, the state issued a notification, announcing formation of the eight-member West Bengal Nasya Sheikh Development Board. The district magistrate of Cooch Behar was made the ex-officio chairman of the board and some representatives of the community, including Rehman, were included in it.
“Among those who migrated from Bengal to other states for jobs, close to 10 lakhs are from our community. After the board was formed, we hoped it would work for us. However, 21 months have passed and we have not witnessed any activity of the board,” Rehman added.
He said that in recent times, a number of organisations and political forces demanding statehood for long, have intensified their movements but they had not.
“This month, we will sit and discuss the issue as there are certain grey areas,” said a member of the unnayan parishad.
Local Trinamul leaders said that the disappointment of the community needed to be addressed ahead of the panchayat polls.