Despite West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s assurances of formation of a Lepcha Development Council (LDC), the Lepchas have decided to continue their dharnas in Kolkata and Kalimpong. They have demanded an official communication from the state government.
Banerjee on Friday had announced in the state assembly that LDC would be constituted for the development of the region.
Lepchas - the indigenous people of the Darjeeling and surrounding hills are on a dharna since August 4 demanding a separate LDC or board for the protection of language, culture, tradition and economic development of the community. The group is also demanding adequate representation in the state assembly and parliament.
“Our dharna continues till we receive an official communication from the government regarding the Lepcha Development Council or until the government initiates dialogues with us. We have read in newspaper reports that the chief minister has assured us a council but we have not received any communication yet,” said NT Lepcha, chief coordinator, Lepcha Rights Movement (LRM).
“Our dharna in front of the Kalimpong sub divisional office will also continue in support of our demands and expressing solidarity with our brothers in Kolkata. We will lift the dharna only after official communication from the government regarding the council,” said A Tangsangmo.
The LRM feels that formation of a development council should not be a problem as such bodies already exit in the North East. “In Assam a Gorkha Development Council exists for the development of the Gorkha community residing in Assam,” Lepcha added.
The Lepcha population is around 1.5 lakhs in the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling district.