“We had a meeting to discuss various things, among which the prime issue was the introduction of the Lepcha language as a subject in different primary schools in the GTA area from this session onwards. We will be submitting a memorandum to the GTA chief executive regarding this, among other demands,” said AILA member Rajeev Lepcha.
According to the AILA, Gurung had previously given them an assurance that the Lepcha language would be introduced as a subject in primary schools but had not commented on when it would start.
“The Lepchas are a deprived community and much is needed to be done to improve their social status. We feel that the introduction of the Lepcha language as a subject would be a great help to us. Apart from this, we have also decided to ask the GTA that the formation of the Lepcha Development Council (LDC) should be done under the GTA and not the state government,” said Lepcha.
In the AILA meeting, it was also decided that they would soon start an awareness campaign from next month in different Lepcha-dominated areas about the LDC.
“Recently, we have been getting a lot of support from the Lepcha community with more people joining our association,” said Lepcha.It may also be added here that hundreds of Lepchas under the banner of the Lepcha Rights Movement in February had started a fast-unto-death in Kalimpong demanding peace in the hills along with asking leaders not to politicise the formation of the LDC.
The hunger strike, which had started on February 7, however, came to an end on February 12 after the assurance of the
Bengal chief minister that a talk on the formation of the
LDC would soon be held between the state government and the Lepchas.