Gorkhas in Assam demand ST status

New Delhi: Gorkhas living in Assam has demanded Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for the community and creation of an autonomous council comprising Gorkha inhabited areas.

The demands were placed before Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh here on Tuesday when a delegation of 'Asom Gorkha Sammelan' called on him to submit some of the long-pending grievances of the community.

The minister gave a patient hearing to the delegation and said he would personally follow up the issues falling within the purview of his Ministry and in case of other issues, he will take up with the departments and ministries concerned.

Singh said the Gorkha community has served the nation through thick and thin and their sacrifices are an example for others to follow.

Interacting with the delegation, the minister quoted Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw's famous observation "if a man says he is not afraid of dying, then he is either lying or a Gorkha".

The delegation claimed that in the Northeastern region, the history of 'Assam Rifles' and the 'Gorkha Regiment' is indeed the history of the bravery of Gorkha soldiers but unfortunately in recent times, the recruitment of Gorkha youth in India's defence forces has declined.

This is partly because of the reason that a Gorkha domicile certificate is expected from them. In addition, as per the gazette notification, the word 'Nepali' is used synonymously for a Gorkha individual and it creates confusion for the recruiting agencies.

They demanded that the Gorkha community certificate issued by the 'Asom Gorkha Sammelan' should be honoured for the purpose of employment or recruitment in defence forces.

The other demands made in the memorandum included setting up of a Gorkha cultural and heritage centre and simplification of the process for inclusion of Gorkha community members in the National Register of Citizens.