Centre holds dialogue with Gorkha delegation, vows all-round growth
The Centre on Tuesday began tripartite talks with the Gorkha representatives from the Darjeeling Hills, Terrai and Dooars region and the West Bengal government to find a solution to the problems related to Gorkhas.
Union home minister Amit Shah, who chaired the talks, assured all the stakeholders that the government is sincerely trying to resolve all issues, including the demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to 11 tribe communities and a separate Gorkhaland.
The Gorkha delegation, led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament from Darjeeling, Raju Bista, highlighted various issues concerning the Gorkhas and the region.
According to a statement issued by the ministry of home affairs (MHA), Shah said the Centre is constantly making efforts to resolve issues related to the Gorkhas and their region. “The Union home minister listened to all the parties concerned and has decided to call for the second round of talks in the presence of the senior officials of the government of West Bengal in November 2021. The West Bengal Government has been specifically asked to send their senior officials for the next round of talks. The all-around development and prosperity of the Darjeeling hills, Terrai and Dooars region is the topmost priority of the Modi Government,” the statement added.
Among the issues particularly discussed during the meeting includes granting Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to 11 hill tribe-communities of the Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars region -- a longstanding demand of the indigenous tribal population in the area.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat thrice since 2009 by allying with the GJM (Gorkha Janmukti Morcha). In 2019, the BJP had an alliance with the GJM (Gurung faction), the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) and other small political parties in the Darjeeling hills.
The BJP has promised to find a permanent political solution to the demand for a Gorkhaland, raised by the Nepali-speaking Gorkhas living in the Darjeeling hills and adjoining Siliguri, the Terai and the Dooars region in north Bengal.
Earlier, in its election manifestos in 2014 and 2019, the BJP had promised that it would find a permanent solution to the Gorkhaland demand.
Officials familiar with the development said Tuesday’s meeting is significant as the government is trying to find a permanent solution to the issue.
Following the meeting, Bista told the news agency ANI – “It was a historical day for Indian Gorkhas. For the first time, there was over one hour of talk with the Union home minister without any protest or ‘Bandh’. It was a successful talk. The meeting was better than we expected. We have placed our demands before the home minister, and he has assured us that the government of India will sincerely try and solve our demands.”