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Posted on Feb 13, 10:00AM | UNI
Kalimpong/Siliguri, Feb 12 : Thousands of tribal Lepchas, who went on fast unto death to safeguard their identity, today called off their agitation on the 6th day after an assurance from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The activists of the Lepcha Movement Rights withdrew the hunger-strike after the Chief Minister's emissary and North Bengal Development Minister Gautam Deb arrived here this morning with a message from her promising that the government would work for restoration of their culture, identity and all round development on the hills.
Mr Deb served a glass of fresh fruit juice to an elderly activist identified as Nimsingh Lepcha to end the hunger strike that started on February 7 at Trikon Park in Kalimpong town.
Initially only 60 activists joined the fast on the first day and the number swelled to every passing day and last counted 6663 heads.
Of them eight members were taken ill following dehydration and exhaustion and they were taken to hospitals since yesterday.
Ms Mamata Banerjee, who had been getting information regularly, got concerned when seven Lepcha people were shifted to hospital on Monday after they refused to take any medicines.
Lepcha Movement Rights' chief convener NT Lepcha said they withdrew the hunger strike after the Chief Minister's assurance to look after ' Our demands for development of the communtiy'.
Mr Lepcha said there was some vested interested parties were trying to divide the unity of the tribal people on the hills.
Mr Deb said there was no problem since the government issued notification for creation of a Lepcha development board in Kalimpong.
He said he would soon arrange a meeting with the LRM leaders with the Chief Minister in Writers Buildings.
Gorkhaland Territorial Administration ruling Gorkha Janmukti Morcha was opposed to formation of a separate Lepcha community board on the hills.