Roshan Giri louds tribal status to 11 communities

Roshan Giri
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today claimed that the Union ministry of tribal affairs had requested the registrar general of India to "examine the proposal" of granting tribal status to 11 communities from the hills and the plains following the hill party's repeated appeals.
Morcha's claim is being seen as a move to woo the hill communities before the Assembly polls. Sources said the Morcha seemed to be preparing ground to make the ST tag issue one of its main poll planks.
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri today said: "Following the Morcha's repeated appeals to grant tribal status to 11 communities (10 in the hills and one in the plains),the BJP-led government has taken a positive step."
The comments came after an RTI reply had been given to Vikram Rai, a member of the Morcha's RTI cell. Rai had wanted to know the status of the demand.
Dhiraj Chandra Ray, research officer and Central Public Information Officer, Union ministry of tribal affairs, in his reply dated March 7, 2016, had said: "... The proposal of Government of West Bengal for inclusion of 'Bhujel, Gurung, Mangar, Newar, Jogi, Khas, Rai, Sunuwar, Thami and Yakha (Dewan) and Dhimal community of Darjeeling district in the list of Scheduled Tribes of West Bengal has already been sent to the Registrar General of India (RGI) to furnish their view/comments on the proposal in the year 2014. Again the Ministry of Tribal Affairs vide letter dated 9.2.2016 requested the RGI to examine the proposal and sent their comments/views. However, comments/views of RGI is awaited."
Today Giri said the proposal sent by the state before the Lok Sabha polls had been rejected by the tribal affairs department under the UPA. "After the election, the state did not act on it. But after the NDA came into power, we repeatedly raised the issue not only with tribal minister Jual Oram but also with home minister Rajnath Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi," said Giri.
In June 2014, Babul Roy, a senior research officer and CPIO# of the office of the registrar general of India, while replying to an RTI filed by a resident of Darjeeling, had stated: "... The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has withdrawn these proposals. At the moment, these are not pending in this office."
Although the 2014 RTI reply did not mention the reason for the withdrawal, it said the main criteria for determining ST status were "social and economic backwardness along with tribal characteristics".
Today, Giri said: "We are confident that the demand will be fulfiled. We appeal to the hill people to keep faith in the Morcha and the BJP."
The 10 hill communities make up more than 55 per cent of the region's population.(TT)

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