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Gorkhaland demand has been reduced to a poll plank: Anit Thapa

Darjeeling: "Gorkhaland demand always makes an appearance during elections in the Hills, whether it is panchayat, civic body, assembly or parliamentary election. Politicians are apprehensive that if they do not raise this issue they will not get votes. This has become the trend in the Hills. But for how long? Gorkhaland agitation spearheaded by political parties has always been exchanged for the chair (read an alternative arrangement,) whether DGHC or the GTA," stated Anit Thapa, GJM General Secretary and GTA.

Thapa was addressing media persons on the sidelines of a meeting with different community development boards in Darjeeling on Wednesday. The GTA has decided to work in coordination with the 15 development boards in the Hills in different spheres including employment generation.

"There is another interesting concept in the Hills, if one forges an alliance with a regional party from Bengal then one is anti-Gorkha. On the other hand, if one sides with a "Delhi-party" one is pro Gorkha. With elections, all will be out with the "Gorkhaland-jhola" (bag) seeking votes. I have decided to steer clear of this trend and rather focus on employment generation and patta (land documents)," stated Thapa.

The GTA Chairman stated that the pandemic and the lockdown have emerged as an eye-opener for him. "Owing to the pandemic I visited rural areas and tea gardens to inspect and take stock of the situation. It is then I realized that most of our youths are working outside. More than 12 per cent of our population is working elsewhere. If this continues and we are unable to generate employment, soon we will be left with the elderly only in the Hills" stated Thapa.

Thapa stressed on stability and peace. "There are many investors interested to invest in the Hills but they are scared of agitations, unrest and arson. We have managed to get the Taj group to invest in a property in Kurseong. Such ventures will generate employment. We can always stress that they will have to give priority to the locals while employing," stated the Chairman.

Talking about Patta (land documents) Thapa stated that it is the biggest irony that in the past political leaders have raised such grave issues like Gorkhaland while 80% of the hill populace are landless or do not have documents for the land they live in.

"We are working for this. Already survey has started in areas such as Lebong. GJM President Binoy Tamang will soon visit Kolkata for the issuing a notification for the survey. We will start distributing Pattas in different areas," stated Thapa.

The problem is with tea garden land which is lease land. In rural areas of the Hills, people live in either government vest land and in Kalimpong the land is classified as DI Fund land.

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