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10 Aug 2017

Tribals snub Gurung

BIRESWAR BANERJEE, TT, Siliguri, Aug. 9: A prominent tribal organisation today vowed to retaliate if there was any attempt by Gorkhaland supporters to create unrest in the Dooars and the Terai.
"We have no problem with Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders as long as they restrict their movement to the hills. But if they try to extend it to the plains forcibly, we will retaliate," said Birsa Tirkey, the state president of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad, an apolitical organisation that has considerable clout over the tribal population in the foothills and tea gardens.
The threat by the tribals comes days after Morcha president Bimal Gurung urged the adivasis in the plains to not only support the Gorkhaland movement but also join it.
Gurung had assured that should a separate state be formed, the Dooars and the Terai would be provided with an autonomous council under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
Asked about the Morcha leader's promise, Tirkey said: "If we want, we ourselves can demand greater autonomy for our own people. But we don't need any support from the Morcha or any other hill party."
"Not a single tribal person has responded to the so-called appeal. We are well aware of our responsibilities. The hill leaders are trying to mislead the adivasis but they won't succeed. If they plan to unleash violence in the plains, we will resist them with arms."
According to Tirkey, there are six Assembly constituencies in north Bengal, mostly in the Dooars and the Terai, where adivasis make up more than 50 per cent of the population. "It is obvious that we don't have to depend on the Morcha to fulfil our aspirations," he said.
The Trinamul Congress had also warned yesterday that it would thwart any attempt to vitiate the atmosphere of peace in the plains by Gorkhaland agitators.
Trinamul today brought out a rally where party leaders and workers vowed not to let the Gorkhaland movement spill over to the plains.
Today was the first time that the ruling party brought out a rally protesting the demand for statehood in the current phase of the agitation.
Anti-BJP slogans were also heard at the march.
State tourism minister Gautam Deb, who led the procession from Kanchenjungha stadium, said: "Our message from today's rally is loud and clear. All efforts to breach peace and amity in the plains would be thwarted politically."
The Parishad had aligned with Trinamul in the Assembly polls last year.
Tirkey and some other leaders of the organisation are members of the Tribal Advisory Council formed by the state government.

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