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10 gorkha communities to get tribal status soon

10 gorkha communities to get tribal status soon
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today claimed Union tribal affairs minister Jual Oram had promised that 10 Gorkha communities would be granted tribal status soon and the ministry had started preparing a report that would be placed before the home ministry.

The 10 communities (Bhujel, Gurung, Mangar, Newar, Jogi, Khas, Rai, Sunwar, Thami and Yakhha (Dewan)) make up around 55 per cent of the total population in the Darjeeling hills.

Morcha assistant secretary Binay Tamang, who was part of a party delegation that met Oram in Delhi today, said: "The Union minister has assured the delegation that 10 Gorkha communities will be granted Scheduled Tribe status soon. He also told us that his ministry had already started the process of including the 10 communities in the tribal list and a report will be placed before the home ministry and the cabinet."

Sources in the Union tribal ministry said in Delhi that Oram had met the Morcha leaders and told them that he would look into the demand.

"The minister told the delegation that he would look into the demand for conferring tribal status on 10 communities. But the demand will be examined by officials in the ministry first. Nearly 100 communities have been demanding tribal status," said a source in the ministry.

Before granting the ST status to a community, the Cultural Research Institute (of a state) conducts a study. The research report is sent to the state backward classes welfare department. The state then sends a recommendation to the Union tribal affairs ministry, which in turn forwards the same to the registrar-general's office under the home ministry. The proposal is then sent back to the tribal affairs ministry following which, the matter is placed before the cabinet.

During the UPA regime, the Mamata Banerjee government had sent its recommendation to grant tribal status to the 10 hill communities to the tribal affairs department and it had been forwarded to the registrar-general's office.

An RTI query by a hill resident in June this year had revealed that the Union ministry for tribal affairs had withdrawn the proposal of granting the ST status to the 10 communities.

The reason for the withdrawal of the proposal had not been stated. It was only mentioned that the main criteria for determining the ST status are "social and economic backwardness along with tribal characteristics".

Today, Tamang said the process had been started once again by the NDA government.

"The tribal affairs minister has said the demand for tribal status was taken up afresh by the new government after repeated appeals by Bimal Gurung," he said.

On July 14, 2013, the Morcha-run GTA Sabha had passed a resolution on granting ST status to the 10 hill communities.

The Morcha took representatives of the 10 hill communities to Delhi to meet Oram today.

Kanchan Gurung, president of Bharatiya Gorkha Janajati Sangharsha Mahasangh, said the meeting with Oram was fruitful.

"The minister has given us a positive reply and we are happy with his assurance. In the past, no political party had taken the initiative to take all community representatives to Delhi to find out about the status of the ST tag demand. Once the proposal is passed by the cabinet, the only thing left would be to pass a bill in Parliament," Gurung said over the phone from Delhi.

Source: The Telegraph

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