MP Raju Bista

Delhi: Darjeeling MP Raju Bista has raised the long-pending issue of re-inclusion of 11 left-out Gorkha sub-tribes in the Scheduled Tribe list.

In a press release issued from the Darjeeling MP’s office, Bista has been quoted, “Post-Independence, the ‘Hill Tribes’ status of the Gorkhas was removed without any consultation with the community, which had deprived the Gorkhas of their traditional rights and left them vulnerable to exploitation.”

The MP was part of the tripartite talks with Home Minister Amit Shah and various leaders from Darjeeling hills.

The Gorkha delegation included Darjeeling MLA Neeraj Zimba, Kurseong MLA BP Bajgain, Kalchini MLA Bishal Lama, GNLF chief Mann Ghising, CPRM chief RB Rai, BJP district president Dr. Kalyan Dewan, GoRaNiMo chief Dawa Pakhrin, ABGL chief Pratap Khati and SuMuMo chief Bikash Rai.

The delegation of the Central government included Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai and MoS Minority Affairs John Barla. Representatives from the West Bengal government were also present.

The Gorkha delegation said the governments of West Bengal and Sikkim had already supported the inclusion of these left out sub-tribes as ST, and that the Government of India had also constituted three committees led by Union Tribal Affairs minister to examine the demand.

The Darjeeling MP, in his press statement, further highlighted various issues concerning the Gorkhas and the region, including lack of democracy and absence of grassroots level governance bodies in the region.

“The stop-gap semi-autonomous governance arrangements in the form of bodies like Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) had failed to meet the expectations of the people from the region. Panchayat elections in the region have not been held since 2001, and the GTA was being run using TMC cadres as Board of Administrators since 2017. Thus, we called for a permanent political solution to be arrived at the earliest,” Bista said.

Home Minister Amit Shah listened to all the parties concerned and has decided to call for a second round of talks after Diwali in November. The WB government has been specifically asked to send senior officials who are empowered for the next round of talks.

Also read: MP: Burglars who left behind note at official’s home on not finding cash held

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