Darjeeling, 13 April : The demand for inclusion of the 11 left out Gorkha sub-communities in the Scheduled Tribe list is heating up once again with various political factions from Darjeeling Hills starting a fresh campaign for the same.
The communities – Bhujel, Gurung, Mangar, Newar, Jogi, Khas, Rai, Sunwar, Thami, Yakkha and Dhimal – live in Darjeeling, Sikkim and other Gorkha dominated states of the country and constitute about 30 to 40 per cent of the population of the Darjeeling Hills.
While, GTA Chief Binay Tamang on Thursday wrote a letter to the Union ministers in this regard, the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) plans to send a delegation to Delhi to discuss the issue with the union ministers and officials.
“We have sent letters to the Union Home Minister and Tribal Affairs Minister to take up the issue and expedite the process,” informed Tamang.
He further added that Chief Minister of Sikkim, Pawan Chamling had assured that he would write to Delhi and also pursue the matter personally during their meeting at Gangtok on March 27 this year.
“West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already sent recommendations to Delhi for the inclusion of the 11 Gorkha communities in the ST list, after the matter was passed in the Bengal Assembly in February 2014. During her last visit to Darjeeling, we had raised the issue. She stated that she had already taken up the issue and that a committee had visited the hills to study the ground situation. We then apprised her that no physical verification has taken place yet. Following this, the state government had sent a fresh recommendation again on February 16, 2018,” Tamang said.
Meanwhile, GNLF while addressing the media on Thursday informed that they will send a delegation to Delhi to pursue the issue.
“We want all the left out Gorkha sub-communities have be included in the ST list. Even the sub-communities included in the Scheduled Caste list have to be delisted and included in the ST list, as it was in 1931,” GNLF Spokesperson Neeraj Zimba demanded.
The Union ministry of tribal affairs had set up a committee under Ashok Pai, a joint secretary, in the first week of April 2016 to examine the proposal for these 11 communities in Bengal, Sikkim and other states.
The committee was given three months to submit its report. But before Pai could examine the matter, he was transferred to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
The panel – later reconstituted under another senior officer, Vishu Maini – has not submitted its report till date.
According to the norms, the ST status is granted to communities through amendments to the list of Scheduled Tribes. The Centre moves a bill in Parliament to amend the list.
At present, nearly 700 communities are included in the schedule. They are entitled to reservation in government jobs and education. The government also runs affirmative schemes like residential schools and scholarships for tribal children.