Demanding an end to the “unnecessary politics” over setting up of Lepcha Development Council (LDC), a group of 50 Lepcha leaders with hundreds of their supporters began a hunger strike unto death in Kalimpong in Darjeeling district on Thursday.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on Wednesday called a bandh in the Hills on February 9 to protest the state government’s decision to set up a separate development council for the Lepchas. The GJM had vehemently opposed the idea terming it as an attempt by the government to divide and rule the Hills. However, the Trinamool Congress government went ahead and gave nod to the setting up of the council, which will have its headquarters in Kalimpong.
Bhupinder Lepcha, convener of Lepcha Rights Movement, said, “We will sacrifice our lives here in Kalimpong. We have been demanding it for several years. But now with a political interest, the government has approved the council. The government and and the political parties of the Hills (read GJM) are doing unnecessary politics over our identity and our lives. We do not have a demand. We have realized that our lives do not have value in the state. And that is why we want to sacrifice our lives through hunger strike.”
Stating that the Lepcha community has never demanded for a separate territory, the leader said: “We are innocent people and we are not into politics. We only wanted right to education, employment guarantee and preservation of our culture. But we are seeing how the government and the local political parties are doing politics over our rights.”
DM stopped from entering GTA office
GJM activists on Thursday prevented Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Principal Secretary Saumitra Mohan, also Darjeeling DM, from entering his office. “We have not allowed him entry to his Lalkuthi office since our demands for regularisation of casual workers have not been conceded to,” said a GJM leader.
GTA ACT: State told Centre in December
The Centre on Thursday informed the High Court that Hill Affairs Department of the state government had sent a letter to Union Home Ministry on December 24, 2012, requesting it to proceed with the constitutional amendment for the GTA Act. The court was hearing a plea filed by GNLF leader Subash Ghisingh challenging the validity of the GTA Act. ENS/PTI