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3 Aug 2017

Mamata turns to Adivasi cause to checkmate Gorkhaland stir

Pinak Priya Bhattacharya | TNN | Aug 3, 2017, Jalpaiguri: With pro-Gorkhaland protests in the foothills coming as a threat to the Adivasi people of the Dooars, chief minister Mamata Banerjee chose the same route the preceding Left Front government had taken in 2009 to thwart efforts to include the entire Terai, Dooars and Siliguri in the proposed Gorkhaland.
In a meeting of the Tribal Advisory Council held at Uttarkanya in Fulbari on Wednesday, Banerjee agreed to many of the 18-point charter of demands that Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad (ABAVP) state president Birsha Tirkey had placed for consideration. Most important among them was the ABAVP demand to drop the seven-year-old cases pending against members for their involvement in clashes in the Dooars in 2009-'10.
Banerjee asked the tribal welfare department secretary and senior police officers present in the meeting to examine the cases and take steps to drop them. She also gave directions to expedite the process of identifying surplus tea garden land in the Dooars and distributing land pattas to Adivasis who have been working in the gardens for ages. She also promised to book the culprits accused of molesting two minor tribal girls at Raiganj two months ago.
Recognising the rich tribal heritage in Bengal, the chief minister also promised to name the Hatighisa College after iconic tribal rebel Birsha Munda.
"The meeting was fruitful. The CM accepted many of our demands and directed her officers to carry out the measures fast," said ABAVP state president Birsha Tirkey, who was a special invitee to the meeting.
That the CM attended the meeting assumed significance after ABAVP came out against the Gorkhaland agitation, calling it a direct affront on the Dooars, their homeland. The announcement made the other settlers in the region, mainly Biharis and Bengalis, rally around the Adivasis to prevent a repeat of the situation in 2011, when GJM claimed the mixed areas in the Terrai and Dooars, and also some mouzas in Siliguri, under the Gorkhland Territorial Administration.

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