GANGTOK, Dec. 12: Congress leader Mr Rahul Gandhi has assured the agitating Lepcha’s of Dzongu, Sikkim and Darjeeling, of sending a fact finding team to look into the controversial power projects proposed at Dzongu, a site considered sacred by the Lepcha community.
Members of several Lepcha organisations from Sikkim and Darjeeling met Mr Gandhi in New Delhi and claimed of having gained his support in favour of their protest.
In dharna for two days at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi protesting against the implementation of the mega hydel projects coming up at Dzongu in North Sikkim, the agitators said: “we met Mr Rahul Gandhi along with other MP's and party leaders and submitted a memorandum on the matter. He assured us of taking it seriously,” claimed Mr Dawa Lepcha, general secretary of the Affected Citizen of Teesta, the organisation that is opposing the setting up of the projects at Dzongu.
“Mr. Gandhi has assured us of sending a fact-finding team to Sikkim for a survey soon and the team would submit its report to him,” he added.
The Joint Action Committee for Dzongu comprising the members of Concerned Lepchas of Sikkim, Sanga of Dzongu, Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association from Kalimpong, Darjeeling Lepcha Association including Affected Citizen of Teesta have been agitating in New Delhi.
The team also met Mr Mani Shankar Aiyer, Union minister for panchayati raj cum minister for Directorate of North East Region (DoNER). “But he made it clear that electricity was a state subject and it depended on the state government how it dealt with it," said Mr Tenzing Gyatso Lepcha general secretary of CLOS. They also met the Planning Commission officiwho assured to visit Dzongu and access the situation.
According to the agitators, they attended a meeting at JNU where the response was positive. "Well known human rights lawyer Nandita Haksar promised to mobilise support for our agitation in New Delhi,” claimed Dorjee T Lepcha president ILTA.
The agitators are planning to intensify their stir with support from groups of the north east and West Bengal. “The Joint Action Committee would also approach the Indigenous People's Forum in the UN soon in context of Indigenous People's Rights,” said Mr Ajuk Tamsangmo, chief coordinator of ILTA. “An independent team comprising of journalists, intellectuals, environmentalists, social activists would visit Sikkim especially Dzongu to study the issue and build up support for the movement,” he added.