Writes Vivek Chhetri
Darjeeling, Sept. 11: The GNLF today presented an RTI reply which stated that a committee formed by the Centre to examine the demand of granting tribal status to 11 hill communities that was formed in April had not yet sat for a single meeting.
The RTI further states that Ashok Pai, who was to head the committee, formed by the ministry of tribal affairs, has been transferred to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
The ministry of tribal affairs had on April 2 announced the formation of a committee headed by Pai, joint secretary in the tribal affairs department, to examine and recommend the granting of ST status to Bhujel, Gurung, Mangar, Newar, Jogi, Khas, Rai, Sunuwar, Thami, Yakka (Dewan) and Dhimal communities in "Sikkim and other Gorkha dominated states and areas".
The committee was to submit its report to the tribal affairs department within "three months".
The RTI reply to Neeraj Zimba Tamang, legal advisor to the GNLF, stated: "No meeting of the Pai committee has been held till now, since chairman, Shri Ashok Pai has been transferred to National Commission for Schedule Tribes. The Ministry is not aware of further developments in this regard."
The reply is dated August 29 and has been issued by Jossy Joseph, section officer and CPIO of ministry tribal affairs.
Zimba had on August 5 sought answers on the status of Pai Committee, the work it is currently doing, whether the panel had made any field investigations, visits, and whether the report has been submitted to tribal affairs department etc.
|Copy of RTI on Tribal status to 11 Gorkha Communities.|
|Copy of RTI on Tribal status to 11 Gorkha Communities. II|
The announcement of the formation of the panel just when the Bengal Assembly election was round the corner had come as a major boost for the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
When told about the RTI reply to GNLF, Morcha leader Binay Tamang, said over the phone from Delhi: "It is a fact that a committee has been formed. As far as we know, the committee is to get information from the principal secretaries of backward classes of various states and then sit for a meeting. Transfer of officials is an administrative matter, which the government has to look into. We are in Delhi and will find out the details."