Gorkhaland activists offer education sops for Dooars tribals

Siliguri, Jan 26  After facing stiff resistance from the tribals of north Bengal’s Dooars to its demand for inclusion of the area in the proposed Gorkhaland, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) Sunday doled out sops, promising to fund the education of tribals in the region.
‘This year, we will bear the education expenses from the primary to the university level for 300 Dooars tribals coming under the BPL category. For this, we will bring them to the hills,’ GJM press and publicity secretary Benoy Tamang told IANS.
The Dooars in Jalpaiguri district has been on the boil due to clashes between the GJM and tribal organisation Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Bikash Parishad (ABABP) that is opposed to the inclusion of Siliguri and the Dooars in Gorkhaland.
Several people, including police personnel, have been injured in the violence that took place as the ABABP resisted the GJM’s bid to make incursions into the Dooars.
The GJM has alleged that ABABP was being patronised by West Bengal’s ruling Left Front partners, Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP).
However, the ABABP leaders scoffed at GJM’s education sops. ‘Tribals should not fall into the GJM trap. I’m sure there’ll be no takers for this offer. The GJM’s only intention is to break the unity of the tribals,’ ABABP vice-president Sukra Munda said at Nagrakata.
Munda said a 15-member ABABP delegation would meet Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Jan 29 to discuss the situation in the Dooars.
Meanwhile, GJM Sunday decided to withdraw from Jan 27 to Feb 5 the shutdown of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council and state government offices.
‘We are giving the relaxation so that the education system does not suffer. All government work related to the coming secondary and higher secondary examination should be completed during the period,’ Tamang said.
The GJM has also decided to celebrate Republic Day in the hills, with its president Bimal Gurung scheduled to hoist the national flag at Gorubathan in Kalimpong sub-division.
The GJM has been leading a movement in the hills for a separate state, besides opposing devolution of more powers to the hills governing body DGHC.
The DGHC was formed in 1988 through an agreement between the central and state governments and the GNLF after the hills had witnessed violence for about two years.