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Scheduled Caste community in Darjeeling demands development board

Darjeeling town and kanchenjunga
Demanding a development board, the Scheduled Caste community of the hills today organised a rally in Darjeeling and threatened to start an agitation that would include dharnas and indefinite hunger strikes. The Scheduled Caste community too wants a set-up on the lines of the Lepcha, Bhutia, Sherpa and Tamang communities which have been granted development boards by the Bengal government. Today, the community under the banner of the All India Nepali Scheduled Caste Association (AINSCA), took out a silent rally in Darjeeling town to highlight their demand. “We too want our community to develop like others in the hills. If the state government can establish so many boards, why not give one for our community? We have raised the issue with chief minister Mamata Banerjee and also submitted a memorandum to her during her last visit to the hills,” said Govind Narayan Lomzel, the AINSCA general secretary. He added, “We had also taken up the matter with GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung, but we were suggested to place the demand with the state government.”
The chief minister has also announced a board for the Mangar community would be formed soon, which has further antagonized the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha that rules the roost in the hills. Besides a development board for the community, the association also wants reservation for the community within the Gorkhaland Territorial
Administration, appointment of 204 teachers in high schools and higher secondary schools and implementation of a 100-point roster in the hills. “We make up 17.2 per cent of the hill population. In the GTA we do not have any reservation, which is why we want proper representation. Our educated youths remain unemployed and therefore we want the 204 teachers from our community to be given appointments in schools,” said Lomzel. The GTA has 45 elected and five nominated Sabhasads who run the affairs of the council and the Sabha.
Although the association has announced its decision to go on the agitation path, it has decided to wait and watch for the time being. “With regard to our three demands we are giving an ultimatum of one month after which we will hold programmes either in Delhi or in Darjeeling. Such programmes could be fast onto death or dharnas,” said Lomzel. When contacted, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said, “We support the demand of the Scheduled Caste community for reservation in the GTA and also appointment of the teachers. We have taken up the matter with the state government and will do so again tomorrow in the bipartite talk in Kolkata. As far as the demand for a development board is concerned, we believe all communities should get one.” (EOIC)

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