While gleaning through the national news media on the current issue of Gorkhaland state the GJM activists towards that goal vis-à-vis the Centre seems to be on track. Primarily because the GTA is a constitutionally instituted body within the meaning of the Fifth Schedule implied to Darjeeling District as a member of the statutory Tribes Advisory Council (TAC) in West Bengal. More or less simultaneously when GTA was created in 2011 forthwith a new TAC in West Bengal was established for the remaining targeted tribes in the State, particularly the North Bengal Districts. Even now it is surmised that the new TAC no doubt has a member representing Darjeeling District who could possibly be the tribal MLA from Phansidewa Constituency of Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling District.
The GTA is an interim setup as an aspect of the Fifth Schedule which eventually will deliver the desired statehood, after the formality of Scheduled Area designation is applied to Darjeeling District. The Scheduled Area in the Fifth Schedule means a larger concentration of Scheduled Tribes (80%) in the District. The same yardstick will be applied to the Dooars in Jalpaiguri District in order it is declared a Scheduled Area. The combination of Scheduled Areas in the two Districts will eventually create the State/UT of Gorkhaland including the territories of Darjeeling District and the Dooars areas of Jalpaiguri District. However this aspect is considered viable when many of the targeted hill communities, who were referred as the ‘Hill Tribes of the Himalayas’ in census 1931 are once again rescheduled as Scheduled Tribes in census 2011. When this formality of the Fifth Schedule is completed only after which the statehood demand becomes legally applicable. It is till the new additional STs are passed as an act of Parliament, which is already in due process and referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee under objection by the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, BJP MP, Arun Jaitley.
Although Darjeeling District is represented by a BJP MP it is a matter of great regret that the ST bill is delayed on account of another BJP MP. Is it possible that the BJP is delaying Gorkhaland despite the fact the ST Ordinance was introduced by the Centre as an order directed by the Supreme Court of India. The question arises, is the BJP bent on scuttling the bill as the delaying tactics till the next general elections. This allegation arises in account of the fact, that the Ordinance has a time limit believed to be within the limits of three months, after which, it is automatically suspended requiring a fresh order and which process is time consuming. Or, is it possible the govt. in tandem with the opposition is sitting on the ST Ordinance, to upset the Gorkhaland statehood demand to please the state govt., till a new govt. is formed after the forthcoming elections in 2014.
Considering these aspects, the GJM while in Delhi for the Tripartite meet require to ask both the Congress and BJP party echelons just one question: “whether in the ST Ordinance, pending before the Parliamentary Standing Committee, contains an additional list of STs in the State of Sikkim. If so, how many and which?” This question is more crucial than any item in the agenda related to the Tripartite Meet. Infact the GJM is urged to ask the same question as an item in the meeting agenda, and which maybe slightly rephrased, “which are the Gorkha communities recommended for the additional ST list in Sikkim”.
For those readers who are not familiar with the understanding that the additional ST list in West Bengal will only be implemented when the same is listed in the State of Sikkim. This is accounted for the fact, that the survey for identifying the additional list was conducted by a Commission in Sikkim only. There were two Commissions for this account 1. A.C.Sinha 2005 and 2.Roy Burman Commission (CRESP) Report 2005-08. The latter Commission has made a general statement wherein the entire list of hill communities can qualify in the additional list of ST in Sikkim. While in the same CRESP Report only six communities have been specifically mentioned by name for the additional ST list.
Therefore GJM requires making a specific application to the leaders of the ruling and opposition parties in Delhi as to the seriousness of their concern in creating a US/State of Gorkhaland before the next general elections. The answer to this question will find a bearing in the immediate issue underlying the relative perspective of the ST Ordinance lying before the Parliamentary Standing Committee and confirming whether the additional list of ST in Sikkim is incorporated in the ST Ordinance. Deriving this answer should not be difficult.
However, heaven forbid, if the additional ST list for Sikkim is not mentioned in the list then the Gorkhaland statehood will be on the backburner till Census 2021, till which time the GTA act will be in force. So it is very important for the GJM representatives attending the Tripartite meet in Delhi on 23 Oct 2013 to take up the issue without fail as a priority i.e. to ask a specific question, “whether the ST Ordinance pending before the Parliamentary Standing Committee also includes the additional list of Scheduled Tribes in Sikkim relevant to census 2011”.
By Hillman the analyst
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