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West Bengal: Tribals march to Barasat, on dharna at DM office

Posted by Admin on October 23, 2009

KOLKATA: Residents of Barasat were stunned to see a demonstration by hundreds of tribals wielding bows and arrows outside the district magistrate’s office on Thursday morning. This was the first tribal stir here in recent times.

The tribals, settled in small pockets of Basirhat like Haroa, Hingalganj and some parts of Sunderbans, marched to Barasat the district headquarters of North 24-Parganas to demand development. They said basic amenities like education and healthcare are missing in their regions and must be made available immediately.

The demonstrators said they were often denied loans and other benefits meant for them under various welfare schemes. They said the state backward classes welfare department must immediately hand them application forms under a loan scheme. They also demanded jobs and inclusion of their names in the list of BPL ration card holders.

"We are carrying bows and arrows not to terrify the people of Barasat but to display our culture to the town folk," said a tribal.

"They demonstrated peacefully and headed for the DM’s office. Initially, we were worried about controlling the armed crowd. But they did not create any problems," said a policeman. The district administration has promised to address their demands. Kolkata had witnessed a similar demonstration at Esplanade on April 24 this year.

Barasat residents, however, were taken aback. "I thought people had come from Jangalmahal," said Joyjeet Chatterjee, an MBA student. "I was surprised to see hundreds of tribals with their traditional weapons," said Sohini Sengupta, a housewife. TOI

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