When Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader Bimal Gurung met Mamata Banejree in Kolkata last week,he agreed to accept the 2001 census data as the yardstick for identifying the Gorkha-dominated areas in the Dooars and Terai regions.
It could prove a tactical victory for the Chief Minister,for the census data shows the Nepali-speaking population as a minority in areas that the GJM wants included under the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA).
Mamata has also coaxed the GJM leadership into agreeing to polls to the GTA in Darjeeling by July 2012,which would finally restore of a democratically elected body in the hills. And her government has won an assurance from the GJM that it would accept the verdict of a committee that is looking into its territorial claims. In the committee’s last meeting,it was decided that district magistrates of Jalpaiguri and Siliguri would examine the 2001 census data based on the mother tongue of the population living in the areas demanded.
In eight blocks of Jalapiguri,from which the GJM has demanded 199 mouzas,nowhere do the Nepali-speaking people form even a third of the population. In the two blocks where they do cross 25 per cent,they remain behind Bengalis and Adivasis,one or the other of which forms the majority everywhere. It is these eight blocks that form the Dooars,and this is where most of the regions tea gardens and reserve forests are located.
We have not yet published the mouza-level data, a census official said. But the percentage of Nepali-speaking people on the basis of mouzas,too,will be submitted to the committee.
The committee report is due by June and the district administration is worried about the reactions it will trigger among various communities.
Not even one per cent of the Adivasi population want their areas to be included in the GTA, said Birsha Tirkey,president of Adivasi Vaikash Parishad. He said they have written to the district magistrate warning of possible repercussions.