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Monday, June 28, 2010

Adivasi bank on autonomy bargain…..Morcha to tribal this is the last offer

TT, Siliguri, June 27: The state leadership of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad will use autonomy as guaranteed under the Sixth Schedule as a bargaining plank in its talks at Writers’ Buildings on June 30.
The talks, the tribal outfit said, would be a reminder to the state government that the Parishad demand could foil the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s ploy to include the Terai and the Dooars in the state that it wants.
“Autonomy for the Terai and the Dooars will be the main agenda of our meeting with the government at Writers’ Buildings on June 30. We will point out how the delay by the state in granting the autonomy has prompted the Morcha to demand the inclusion of the region in its proposed state,” Parishad state general secretary Tezkumar Toppo said over the phone from Calcutta.
The convener of the Parishad’s Terai-Dooars regional committee, John Barla, however, has not yet ruled out the possibility of sitting with the Morcha after the hill party sent a letter of invitation to the tribal body’s regional unit on June 3. The letter came after Morcha president Bimal Gurung re-christened Gorkhaland to Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh and announced it at a public meeting in Darjeeling on May 30.
However, the state committee is keeping up the pressure on its regional unit on the Morcha issue. “I have told the Dooars leaders to ask the Morcha what they want to discuss before sitting with them. We will discuss the matter in the state committee. In case we get the autonomy, there is no need for talks with the Morcha,” Toppo said.
At a meeting scheduled for tomorrow in Banarhat, the regional committee would discuss the Morcha’s offer, Barla said. He has written to the Morcha leadership last week expressing his willingness to talk. “I will brief the state leadership about tomorrow’s meeting after I reach Calcutta the next day to attend the June 30 talks. We cannot ignore the local sentiments involved,” Barla said.
Barla, who lives in Binnaguri, could not attend Saturday’s meeting in Calcutta because of the transport strike. “I have been briefed by the state leadership about yesterday’s meeting and the outcome will be discussed tomorrow,” he said.
The Parishad state leaders had met in Calcutta yesterday to chalk out their strategy for the June 30 talks. Apart from autonomy, the party will place the demands for a medical college, a Hindi-medium college, an alternative bridge on the Teesta at Sevoke among others before the state. 
“A 15-member delegation that includes our representatives from the Dooars and the Terai will sit with the state chief secretary on June 30,” Toppo said.
Gorkha's call
TT, 27 June, Darjeeling: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung today said a final offer was being made to the tribals in the Terai-Dooars to join his outfit’s statehood movement .  
The announcement comes a day before the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad’s Terai-Dooars coordination committee holds a meeting at Banarhat in Jalpaiguri district on the Morcha invitation that had first come on May 30. 
“We had placed a proposal for the Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh state, keeping their interest in mind. The Adivasi community must understand the importance. This is the final offer we are making and if they still want to side with the Bengal government, we have nothing more to say,” Gurung said while addressing members of the Minority Front at the Darjeeling Gymkhana Hall today. 
On May 30 at a public meeting, Gurung, to woo the tribals, had re-christened Gorkhaland, the state his party had been clamouring for, to Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh. 
With the state government inviting the Parishad for talks in Calcutta on June 30, the Morcha leadership cannot rule out the possibility of the tribals negotiating with the Bengal government on autonomy for the Terai and the Dooars. 
“The Morcha leadership is not ruling out the possibility of a non-response from the Adivasis. That is why Gurung is sending out a strong message to the tribals in the Terai and the Dooars, ahead of their meeting tomorrow,” an observer said. 
The Morcha chief, while addressing the hill tribes and other communities that are a minority in the hills, stressed that the “Gorkha” (in Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh) represented every community residing in the region. 
“We could have named it Nepali Pradesh but that would not have encompassed all the tribal communities. Moreover, if we had demanded a Nepali Pradesh, we would have been unnecessarily tagged with Nepal while our demand is all about Indian identity,” said Gurung. 
The Morcha president also said he would convene a meeting with the representatives of the hill tribes soon to form a new forum. “Including the hill tribes in the minority forum does not sound good. We need to come up with a new name,” said Gurung. 
He also alleged that the Bengal government had started dividing the people of the hills on “tribal” lines, refusing to elaborate more. Even though the Tamangs, Subbas and Limbus all consider themselves Gorkhas, they are tribes just like the Sherpas, Bhutias, Lepchas and the Yolmos. 
The Morcha said it would not label any person a member of the rival camp merely because he or she had attended the funeral or the candle light rally after ABGL chief Madan Tamang’s murder on May 21. 
“In our society everyone attends a funeral. People have attended his funeral and the candlelight rally on humanitarian grounds. After all, Madan Tamang was a great Gorkha leader. However, my reservations are against those handful who were trying to politicise the funeral and the candlelight rally,” said Gurung. 
Daring the government to prove his involvement in Tamang’s murder, Gurung said: “I was in Kalimpong and Amar Lama, with whom I was very close, was with me. People should ask Amar Lama whether I could have done such a thing,” said Gurung adding that those guilty of the murder “even if they are from my party” should be punished immediately. Lama, the slain ABGL leader’s brother and a Morcha central committee member, had left the party after the murder. 
The Morcha president also said if the state government wanted to disband the Gorkhaland Personnel, it should first give them government jobs. “I am giving them Rs 1,000 a month and helping the families of these boys and girls,” added Gurung, referring to the Morcha squad of lathi-wielding volunteers. 
Before the start of the meeting, party general secretary Roshan Giri claimed that 48 families owing allegiance to the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM) from Mundakhoti had joined the Morcha. The CPRM, which could not be contacted, is the largest party in the hills after the Morcha.

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