BENGAL POLITICS … as Lepchas launch strike over identity issue – an unwavering signal to Bengal that the issue of bifurcation of Bengal is a clear “non-issue” as the areas demanded by the GJM were never officially a part of Bengal ?!!
From The Indian Express
By Shiv Sahay Singh
Kolkata, Thu Sep 09 2010, 04:48 hrs: At a time when there is turmoil in the hills over a separate Gorkhaland state, a group of 50 Lepchas from Darjeeling began an indefinite hungerstrike in Kolkata on Wednesday.
Their problem: Though they are the residents of the Darjeeling district, the community certificates awarded to them says that are of Sikkimese orgin.
“We are confused about our own identity. We reside in Darjeeling but the community certificate given by the state government says that we are of Sikkimese origin,” said B Lepcha, the convenor of Lepcha Youth Association. The youths claimed that due to this, they do not get jobs in the military and paramilitary forces.
In 2004, after a study conducted by the Anthropoligical Society of India referred to the community as having Sikkimese origin, the state government came out with a notification in this regard.
Prior to their demonstration in Kolkata, the Lepchas have carried put a similar protest in Silliguri in August. “They have given a deputation to me. But I think it is a larger issue and beyond my purview,” said Darjeeling District Magistrate Surendra Gupta.
According to the 2001 Census, there are 14,731 Lepchas in West Bengal. But the community claims that their population exceeds a lakh.
The Lepchas are found predominantly in areas like Kurseong, Kalimpong, Mirik and Darjeeling. (with a much greater majority in Sikkim and also in Nepal ?!!)