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Centre assures of ST status for 11 hill communities :GJM

DARJEELING :  The union tribal affairs ministry has assured a Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) delegation led by Bimal Gurung that it had already taken the initiative for processing the demand to include eleven communities from the Hills and Dooars in the schedule tribe list. GJM has been demanding for inclusion of ten communities from the Hills and one from the plains of Dooars in the schedule tribe list. The communities are Bhujel, Gurung, Mangar, Newar, Jogi, Khas, Rai, Sunwar, Thami and Yakhha (Dewan) from the Darjeeling Hills and Dhimal from Dooars. Speaking over phone from Sashtri Bhawan after meeting tribal affairs minister Jual Oram, the GJM assistant secretary Binay Tamang said, “We met the union minister for tribal affairs in Delhi with our demand. And the union minister has assured the delegation that the demand for inclusion of ten Gorkha communities will be granted soon. He also apprised us that the ministry has already taken the initiative for processing it and a report will be placed before the home ministry and the cabinet”. He added, “Our MP from Darjeeling, S.S.Ahluwalia facilitated the meeting and even accompanied us to Sashtri Bhawan”. 

Gurung is leading the delegation and had called one representative from each of the eleven communities under the banner of Bharatiya Gorkha Janajati Sangharsha Mahasangh (BGJSM) to Delhi to meet the union minister on December 17. However, because of the busy schedule of the minister, the meeting could only be held, today. “The meeting was positive and the union minister cited the GJM-BJP alliance as the primary reason behind the Government of India’s decision to cooperate for including the eleven communities under the tribal status,” claimed Tamang. Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had made a recommendation to the central government for conferring tribal status to the ten Hills communities and accordingly the state cabinet passed a resolution on In February. The CM had also written to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the same month. 

However, the ST status of the hill communities had come under a cloud after it was revealed in June that the earlier UPA Government's Union ministry for tribal affairs had withdrawn the proposal of granting Schedule Tribe status to the 10 Darjeeling hill communities. “It (demand) was renewed by the relentless pressure of our party and president after the formation of the new Government in Delhi. In fact, the tribal affairs minister reminded us the delegation that the demand was freshly placed by the new Government because of repeated appeals by Gurung, five months ago,” Tamang said. BGJSM president Kanchan Gurung also a part of the delegation expressed gratitude to the GJM for taking up the cause of the communities. “After meeting the union tribal affairs minister and hearing what he had to say, we are not only hopeful but have faith that our demand will be granted soon,” he said from Delhi. 

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