Hill support for Lepcha fast


Siliguri, July 30: Lepchas from different parts of the Darjeeling hills today marched to the district magistrate’s office in Darjeeling to express solidarity with members of Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT), who are on a hunger strike in Gangtok.

The peaceful rally was organised under the aegis of the Kalimpong-based Rong Ong Prongzom (a Lepcha youth organisation) and led by its president Dorji T. Lepcha.

Dressed in traditional Lepcha attire, the rallyists marched from Chowrastha to the district magistrate’s office and submitted a memorandum to the additional district magistrate S. Mukherjee.

They demanded that the Bengal government pressure the government of Sikkim to scrap all the hydel projects proposed for Dzongu — a land holy to the Lepchas.

The Lepcha youths also threatened to organise hunger strikes in cities like Calcutta, Delhi and Mumbai if their demand was not fulfilled or if the Sikkim government used force against the peaceful ACT protesters in Gangtok. They have claimed that the Sikkim government had violated Article 371(f) of the Constitution since under the provisions of this act, Dzongu was protected as a Lepcha reserve.

Earlier the Prongzom had blocked NH 31A at Melli for two hours in support of their protest.

In Gangtok, the fast led by ACT general secretary Dawa T. Lepcha and Tenzing Gyatso reached the 42nd day today with no possible solution in sight. The government that had issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the fasting members a few days ago, maintained a studied silence on the issue.

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