Lepchas end fast as govt issues council notification

Members of Lepcha community ended their indefinite hunger strike in Kalimpong in Darjeeling district on Tuesday after the state government issued a notification for setting up of the Lepcha development council named as Mayel Lyang Lepcha Development Board.

A group of Lepchas led by community leader Bhupinder Lepcha were on hunger strike for the past five days protesting "politicisation" over setting up of a Lepcha development council. They went on a hunger strike soon after the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha opposed the government move to set up any such council.

Earlier in the day, North Bengal Development Minister Gautam Deb met the protesting Lepchas and assured them that the government would go ahead with the setting up of a separate development council for them.

Bhupinder Lepcha said: "We are thankful to the government that it has finally issued the notification for the Lepcha development council," he said.

The new body will "undertake all necessary activities for the protection, promotion and safeguard of Lepcha language and culture." The council would also finds ways to general livelihood for the Lepchas. It will be formed under the Backward Class Welfare Department of the state government, which will also nominate its chairperson and vice-chairperson. The office of the council will be located in Kalimpong.

GJM blockades, black flags greet minister

Minister Gautam Deb, had to face several blockades set up by GJM supporters on way to Kalimpong. GJM supporters also waived black flags at him.

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