Tribal status craze in Hills resurfaces

The Statesman

Mohan Prasad

Kurseong, 1 November
The demand for tribal status for the people belonging to the non-tribal sub-ethnic communities, parts of the generic Gorkha group, has re-surfaced in the Hills after a lull for a considerable span of time. Political observers believe the demand would gain momentum in the coming days in view of the crucial Lok Sabha election drawing near.
During the chief minister’s recent Hill trip, several individuals and organisations representing the interests of such sub-ethnic groups within the corpus Nepalese community had submitted memorandums to her, demanding tribal status for them.
Among the outfits that served such memorandum to the CM through the party’s senior leader Mr Mukul Roy, are All India Newar Sangathan and Kirati Khambhu Sanskritik Sangathan, championing the interests of the Newar and Rai communities respectively.
Mr Roy was said to have assured them that their demands would be examined. He was also understood to have enquired about the population of the Newars in the Hills.
It must be mentioned that the non-tribal populace of the Hills had raised hackles when the GNLF chief and DGHC administrator, Mr Subash Ghising asked such people to get united to demand Scheduled Tribe status as part of his scheme to include the Hills under the tribal-specific Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Several organisations championing the causes of the non-tribal groups had hit the streets, protesting against Mr Ghising’s ‘conspiracy’ to turn the Hill into a tribal zone. The slain AIGL president, Madan Tamang was in the forefront, branding it as a Machiavellian conspiracy to fragment the corpus Gorkha community on the tribal-non-tribal lines. The pace of events revolving around the question of the non-tribals getting converted to the tribal status was supposed to have resulted in the erstwhile paramount leader getting overthrown.
Strangely, the GJMM that had gained strength at the expense of the GNLF by raising voice against the Hills being included in the Sixth Schedule reverted to Mr Ghising’s stance on the sensitive issue after sometime, pitching for the non-tribals excluding the Scheduled Castes getting converted to the ST.
The people here are confused. Both the parties are for the conversion, yet while GNLF is still for bringing the Hills under the Sixth Schedule the GJMM is against such provision being applied here.

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