Friday, December 07, 2007

Lepcha protesters in Delhi over Dzongu

By Source: The Telegraph on December 06,2007

Gangtok, Dec. 5: The protest against setting up of hydel projects in Dzongu, a Lepcha reserve in North Sikkim, has reached Delhi.

A team of representatives from various Lepcha organisations of Sikkim, the Darjeeling hills and Delhi — led by Affected citizens of Teesta (ACT) which is spearheading the protest — held a sit-in at Jantar Mantar today.

The protesters claim that the construction of hydel projects in Dzongu would disturb the fragile ecological balance of the area and hurt the religious sentiments of the Lepchas.

The sit-in started with offering of prayers by a Lepcha priest (bong thing). It was followed by offering of neysol (appeasement of deities) by the members of Sangha (monks) of Dzongu, Tseten Lepcha, the ACT chief coordinator, told The Telegraph over phone from New Delhi.

Dawa Lepcha, ACT general secretary, Lyangsong Tamsang, the president of the Joint Action Committee for Protection of Holy Land Dzongu, made presentations at the sit-in. Suparna Lahiri from Delhi Solidarity Group and Kuldeep Nayar, a former MP, addressed the gathering to express solidarity with the movement. Surendra Mohan and his wife Manju, both social activists, also took part.

Later, the protesters called on Planning Commission member Kirit S. Parikh and DoNER minister Mani Shankar Aiyar to apprise them of the movement.

“The dharna will continue tomorrow which will be followed by a candle light march,” Lepcha said. But he did not say how long the sit-in would continue. In Gangtok, a relay hunger strike by ACT members has been going on for 170 days.