The JAP Bureau member Amar Lama said, “Land rights has been a long standing demand of people living in forests, cinchona and tea gardens.
Most of them have been living in these places for more than 100 years but do not have a land of their own. According to the law the land belongs to them and there are provisions in the Land Acquisition Act regarding this. When the GTA Accord was signed we had hoped that in the interim arrangement something would be done in this regards but nothing happened.”
“We want that the area of land in which they are staying in presently the government should settle it accordingly and want the government to start the process. If some tea gardens agree to this it will automatically put pressure to other gardens. We want to start a dialogue with the government due to which we have started this peaceful program of dharna from today onwards. We will see what the reaction of the government is and if nothing happens we will launch other programs which will also be peaceful and democratic in nature,” said Lama who added that due to this being examination time they were not using any loudspeakers of any kind in their program.
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Political observers feel that the JAP who will be contesting in the upcoming Bidhan Sabha elections will focus on the issue of land rights to gain public support from people living in the tea gardens and the cinchona area with a major chunk of population in the hills living there.
Today the dharna which started from 11 in the morning had 11 women and 18 boys participating in it from different places like Takdah, Teesta, BaraPubung. After 24 hours another set of people will sit in the dharna.
The JAP president Harka Bahadur Chettri was not present today.
When contacted the Darjeeling district magistrate Anurag Srivastavsaid, “The matter is something related to government policy but we will forward the matter of their demand to the concerned department.”