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Sherpa cultural board in Darjeeling announced

Sherpa cultural board in Darjeeling announced
Mamata Banerjee today announced from the audience of a Darjeeling programme that a Sherpa cultural board would be formed, prompting allegations of divide and rule from the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

"The Sherpa community has made a request for development. I was not aware of it. A Sherpa cultural board will be formed for the community. We will also grant an aid of Rs 5 crore to the board," the chief minister announced after interrupting the emcee at a government programme, Morcha and Sherpa leaders seated by her side.

Singers Indranil Sen and Soumitra Roy were performing on the dais when some members of the Sherpa community who were sitting near Mamata were seen talking to her.

As soon as Roy's performance ended, Mamata stopped the emcee, took up a cordless microphone that was passed onto her and made the announcement.

Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri, Lt Col (retd) Ramesh Allay, the GTA deputy chief; and party MLAs Trilok Dewan, Harka Bahadur Chhetri and Rohit Sharma were sitting beside the chief minister when she announced the Sherpa board.

As soon as the programme ended, Giri said: "This is a divide-and-rule policy. If a board is formed for the Sherpas, similar boards must be set up for all hill communities. The (Sherpa) board should be brought under the GTA."

Asked if the Morcha was feeling slighted at the end of Mamata's three-day visit to Daejeeling, during which she made no other announcement, Giri said: "Yes."
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The Morcha had protested earlier boards by the Lepchas and Tamangs. Both boards are under the government, much to the chagrin of the Morcha.

The hill party wants the boards to function under the GTA.

As soon as Mamata left the venue of the programme at Chowrasta, members of the Sherpa community climbed onto the stage to celebrate.

Nima Wangdi Sherpa, the president of the All Sherpa Association from Darjeeling and Terai Dooars, said: "This is a historic day for all of us. We must rejoice. This is the outcome of one-and-a-half-year's work. We thank the chief minister for the announcement and I would also like to thank all community members who came to Darjeeling yesterday to attend this programme."

The declaration to form the board came as a surprise to many because the chief minister had not made any announcement during her three-day tour of Darjeeling.

At the government programmes she attended on Wednesday and Thursday, she limited her speeches to less than 10 minutes and had mostly spoke on developmental.

During a 12-minute speech today on the 119th birth anniversary of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, Mamata spoke about his contribution to the freedom movement and the "incomplete history" of Netaji.

It was when the dignitaries were being escorted towards the audience from the dais before a cultural programme that Mamata suddenly walked up to the podium and said: "The Sherpa community members felicitated us. I want to ask the Sherpa leaders to provide a list of 10 mountaineering families to us. We will grant a sum of Rs 1 lakh to each family."

The Sherpa community members had felicitated Mamata the chief minister, with a khada (silk scarf) and a basket of oranges on stage.

A gate had also been erected The Sherpa community had also erected a welcome gate near the Darjeeling railway station to welcome the chief minister.(The Telegraph)

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