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Bimal Gurung Pawan Chamling jointly to demand tribal status for Gorkha communities

Pawan Chamling with Bimal Gurung
In a landmark development, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and the Sikkim government have decided to jointly demand the Centre to confer tribal status to all the Gorkha and Nepali speaking communities in the country. The decision was taken today after an hour-long meeting between Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling and GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung at Mintogang, Gangtok, the former’s official residence. The GTA is demanding tribal status to 11 communities - Bhujel, Gurung, Mangar, Newar, Jogi, Khas, Rai, Sunwar, Thami and Yakha Dewan from the hills - and the Dhimal community from the plains. The Sikkim government, on the other hand, wants the Centre to accord tribal status to all the left-out Sikkimese Nepali communities. After the meeting, a content looking Gurung said, “Mr Chamling is a senior politician with vast knowledge and experience. We will need to create a collective front to take forward the tribal status demand and his help will be very crucial.” During the meeting, it was also decided that the various Gorkha organisations of the country would be required to be mobilised, and if necessary, a pan-India forum created to give added impetus to the tribal status demand.
Gurung suggested that such a pan-India forum should be formed under Chamling’s leadership because of his political acumen and lobby in Delhi which have helped the Sikkim government on several occasions in the past. Gurung and Chamling have also decided to sit for another meeting to chalk out a strategy for including the Gorkha communities of the country under the tribal list. The Sikkim chief minister pointed out that getting tribal status would strengthen the statehood demand that is being raised by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in the Darjeeling hills. “The Gorkhas of the country including those of Sikkim and Darjeeling continue to face an identity problem. Securing tribal status will definitely strengthen the Gorkhaland demand,” Chamling said. He reasoned that new states were created keeping aspects such as language, geography, local problems and ethnicity in mind. The Sikkim CM pointed out that Darjeeling fulfilled these criteria and that if its people were given tribal status, it would no doubt strengthen the statehood demand. At the same time, Chamling also advised the political parties of the hills to come together on one platform to take the statehood demand forward. In fact, the SDF government of Sikkim has already passed a resolution in the state Assembly supporting the creation of a Gorkhaland state. The Sikkim government has also decided to help the GTA in skill development and capacity building of the youths of the hills. “Besides working to protect the rights of all the Gorkha and Nepali speaking communities, we also need to work on their intellectual and materialistic growth,” said Chamling. On August 10, Gurung had called on Union minister of Tribal Affairs Jual Oram in Delhi for immediate inclusion of the 11 Gorkha communities in the list of scheduled tribes. This was a follow up to the meetings with the minister last year. (EOIC)

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