Monday, December 19, 2011

Morcha-Adivasi campaign from today - Hill outfit ready to give up half funds

Morcha-Adivasi campaign from today 
- Hill outfit ready to give up half funds

Kumani (Kalimpong), Dec. 4: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the Adivasis will form joint committees and campaign from tomorrow for Gata, a set-up that seeks to cover the Darjeeling hills and the Dooars and Terai.

The Morcha also said it was willing to spend 50 per cent of the Rs 200 crore that the Centre had promised to the GTA for the development of the Dooars and the Terai.

In a message to the state, the Morcha leadership said the government should chalk out a strategy that ensured peace and development in the hills as well as in the Terai and the Dooars.

Last week, north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb had said an agreement had already been reached with the Morcha and the government would not consider any fresh proposals like Gata.

But Morcha president Bimal Gurung and party general secretary Roshan Giri shared the dais with Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad leaders here today to pitch their support for a Gorkha Adivasi Territorial Administration (Gata).

After the meeting at the forest grounds here, Gurung told reporters that changing the name of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) to Gata will not be a problem.

"Once the governor gives his assent to the GTA Bill, we will sit together with the Centre and the state and the name will be changed (to Gata). That will not be a problem," Gurung said.

He said the Gata would address the condition of the minorities in the region. "We are in touch with the Muslims and their development issues will be taken up by Gata." Yesterday the Dooars Millat-e-Islamia had raised the demand to change the name of GATA to Gorkha Adivasi Muslim Territorial Administration.

The campaign for Gata will start tomorrow. On Tuesday, a meeting will be held to form joint co-ordination committees across the region. "On December 10, we will hold rallies across the area from the Sankosh to Phansidewa for Gata," the Morcha president said. While the River Sankosh in Jalpaiguri district marks one end of the Dooars, Phansidewa in Darjeeling marks the extreme Terai end.

Gurung said the Sankosh-Phansidewa rally has been deliberately planned ahead of the December 15 meeting of the territorial committee headed by Justice (retired) Shyamal Sen.

The Justice Sen panel had been tasked to look into an earlier Morcha demand that the Gorkha dominated areas of the Dooars and the Terai be made part of the GTA. People from the region had made submissions before the panel on if they wanted to join the GTA or not.

Asked what would happen to the panel, Giri who is a member, said: "Let the government do its work but it should realise what is required to be done for the peace and development of the hills and the plains. There is no barrier in the inclusion of the Terai and the Dooars in the new set-up."

Giri underscored the importance of the Parishad in the proposed Gata. "The deputy chairperson of Gata will be from the Parishad and we will spend half of the Rs 200 crore promised initially by the Centre for the development of Adivasi-dominated areas. We will also have Gata branch offices throughout the region," Giri said.

Dissident Adivasi leader John Barla took a dig at the state committee leaders of the Parishad who had showcaused him for joining hands with the Morcha.

"Those who are sitting in Calcutta should give us an answer. Those in the Darjeeling hills have got the GTA, what have we got?" Barla said.

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