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Gorkhas in plains seek board

Terai Doaars tea plantation
The state government is mulling over a proposal to form a separate board for Gorkhas in the foothills of north Bengal, representatives of the Terai Dooars Gorkha Task Force said here today.
The state had formed the task force last year.
Binod Ghatani, a former Morcha leader who defected to Trinamul, was made the chairman of the task force and Rs 5 crore was allotted for the economically weak families of the Gorkha community in the Terai and the Dooars.
"We have built houses, installed tube-wells and repaired some roads, using the fund spent through north Bengal development department. But considering the huge population of the Gorkhas in the entire stretch of the foothills, right from the India-Nepal border in the Terai to the Bengal-Assam border in the Dooars, we felt that more funds were required for their socio-economic development. We had urged the state to form a development board for the Gorkhas in the plains like those for different communities in the hills," Ghatani said.

"We have information that the state is working on the proposal," he added.
In the plains, the government sanctioned a board for the Rajbangshis. In the hills, over 15 development boards have been formed for different communities so far.
The move, observers said, is an attempt to prevent the spill-over of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's movement into the foothills.
After its birth in 2007, the Morcha has been demanding that the Terai and the Dooars be brought under the proposed Gorkhaland state.
The demand has led to demonstrations and protests by Morcha leaders and workers in the plains, followed by counter-protests of the tribal population.
There had also been a number of violent incidents due to differences between the Morcha and the adivasis. In recent years, several leaders and workers of the Morcha have switched to Trinamul both in the Terai and the Dooars, weakening the hill party.
"In the present situation, there is always a chance that the agitation in the hills might spill over into the foothills. If the state plans to form such a board and allots funds for the development of the Gorkha community, it would surely have a positive impact on the Gorkha population," an observer said.
Ghatani today said Morcha supporters in the Dooars and the Terai were in a fix now.
"Bimal Gurung has used them time and again for his own interests but has not done anything for them. Top leaders of the Morcha have not spent a penny for them, unlike the state government that has formed the task force and helped them through various welfare schemes. We don't think Morcha leaders in Darjeeling will succeed in inciting them any more," he said.
Asked about the indefinite strike in the hills from tomorrow, Morcha leaders in the Dooars said they would hold a meeting on June 14 and decide on further course of action.
"We will be busy for the next two days because of the strike in the tea industry. After June 13, we will sit and discuss our plans," Sandeep Chhetri, a central committee member of the Morcha from the Dooars, said.
Chhetri also hinted that his party could launch a movement on issues like non-inclusion of two mouzas of the Dooars in the GTA.(TT)

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