The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has informed that the central committee to look into the demand of granting Scheduled Tribe status to 11 communities from the hills and plains will visit Sikkim and Darjeeling by November 15.
This has come on the heels of RTI reply that revealed the committee formed on April 2 had not held a single meeting till August. The chairman of the panel, Ashok Pai, was recently transferred from the tribal affairs department to the National Commission of Scheduled Tribe.
Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha, said: “On October 26, we met Vishu Maini, the chairperson of the committee, who recently replaced Ashok Pai, in Delhi. During our interaction, the chairperson assured us that the committee is working as per its mandate and he would visit Sikkim and the Darjeeling hills by November 15.”
“We were told by the chairperson that they are at present going through various documents related to the communities. We also submitted additional documents to the committee,” said Giri.
Granting of tribal status to the Bhujel, Gurung, Mangar, Newar, Jogi, Khas, Rai, Sunuwar, Thami, Yakka (Dewan) and Dhimal communities has been long-standing demand of the Morcha and other hill parties.
The panel under Pai was supposed to submit its observation to the ministry of tribal affairs by June and the RTI reply saying that no meeting of the committee was held till August was an embarrassment for the Morcha.
A positive recommendation by the panel within the stipulated three-month time frame would come as a boost to the Morcha before the GTA elections to be held in August next year, political observers said.